Crime & Courts

Federal Court rejects Najib's bid to postpone appeal hearing

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Court has rejected Datuk Seri Najib Razak's bid to postpone the hearing of his appeal at the Federal Court to overturn his conviction over the SRC International case, which had been fixed from Aug 15 to 26.

Federal Court registrars Wan Fatimah Zahara Wan Yussof and Siti Hajar Mustaffa ordered the original set of dates fixed for the appeal hearing to be maintained despite an appeal by Najib's new defense team that they needed time as there were issues with the documentation and appeal records for the proceedings.

The new defense team from Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suflan T H Liew & Partners (ZIST) had earlier informed the court that they were having difficulties obtaining all relevant papers to prepare for the appeal and they needed time to go through everything.

The defense team - consisting of senior lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as lead counsel, and Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiaravanam as co-counsels, said they only received hard copies which ran into 162 volumes from Najib's previous lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's firm on Wednesday.

ZIST lawyers said they had also been unable to match the digital copies with the hard copies, and therefore needed time to prepare for the submissions and arguments before the Federal Court.

Shafee's firm said that they only received the termination letter from Najib on Monday and had provided the hard copies of the case by Wednesday.

However, the court said such matters should be handled between the previous counsel and Najib's new defense team and ordered the hearing dates to be maintained.

The court also ordered Najib's application to adduce fresh evidence in his defence to be heard on the same day, on Aug 15 together with his main appeal.

However, the court was told that ZIST will also be making another application to adjourn both matters in open court when the appeals are heard on Aug 15.

Today's case management via Zoom hearing was attended by lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram and Deputy Public Prosecutor Ashrof Adrin Kamarul while the defense lawyers were represented by Hisyam, Liew and Rueben.

Najib's previous counsel Shafee also attended the hearing partially before logging out.

It was previously reported that Najib had appointed ZIST to handle his final bid to overturn the SRC International conviction after dropping Shafee.

The new team had then sought an adjournment of the Aug 15 to 26 dates that had been fixed for the hearing of the appeal at the Federal Court after pleading that they needed time to prepare.

Liew, in a letter to the deputy registrar of the Federal Court, had apologised for any inconvenience caused, asking for consideration to be given to the request for an adjournment.

Najib is seeking to overturn his 2020 conviction of all seven charges of power abuse, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to RM42 million of SRC International funds.

The then High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali had sentenced him to 12 years' jail and RM210 million fine for the offences.

Since then, Najib has lost in his bid to overturn the conviction and sentence at the Court of Appeal and also failed in his attempts to introduce fresh evidence and also appoint a Queen's Counsel to represent him.

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