PUTRAJAYA: The country's top court has started hearing Datuk Seri Najib Razak's SRC International appeal hearing today with his lawyers opting to say nothing after his lead counsel said he was unable to proceed as he needed more time to prepare.
Speaking at a press conference later, Najib said he was left with no defence in his bid to overturn his 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine over the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC funds.
The dramatic turn of events unfolded from the onset of hearing at the Federal Court here about 10am when the court was called into session.
The former prime minister had minutes earlier walked into the courtroom after waving to a group of his supporters who had lined up the entrance to the Palace of Justice building here from early morning.
They greeted the former Umno president with shouts of Bossku (my boss) as Najib, 69, made his way in.
However, it was all downhill from then on as a request by Najib's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik for an adjournment to the case was unceremoniously booted out by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who sat with four others – Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court Judges Datuk P. Nalini, Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Datuk Muhammad Zabidin Mohd Diah.
Despite the court making it clear on Tuesday that it would not entertain any more requests for a postponement of the appeal hearing, Hisyam again stood up and pleaded for the case to be adjourned.
The senior counsel pushed his luck again this morning and urged the court to grant him more time to prepare for the case.
"I am tendering an apology which is sincere and from the bottom of my heart. I am unable to proceed with the appeal.
"It was an error of judgment on my part when I accepted this brief. I had expected this court to accept our plea for an adjournment because of the scope and depth of the appeal," he said.
Hisyam then went on to state that he would have no choice but to discharge himself if the application for a postponement was not granted.
Tengku Maimun then turned to the prosecution and asked if they had anything to say but Solicitor General I Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh said they would leave it to the court to decide.
The CJ immediately called for a recess and after discussing with the other panelists, returned to say that Hisyam could not discharge himself.
She said the court would rely on the defence submissions filed by Najib's previous counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the Court of Appeal (COA) if Hisyam insisted that he could not say anything as he was unprepared.
Tengku Maimun then ordered ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram to start with the prosecution submissions.
As all this was unfolding, Najib – in the dock dressed in a dark suit with a white mask on, could be seen fiddling with his mobile phone as his two children Noorashman and Nooryana Najwa – sat pensively directly behind him in the public gallery.
Sithambaram then went on to outline the prosecution's case against Najib and briefed the judges about how SRC International funds had gone into the Pekan member of parliament's personal accounts.
He said the money was then used by Najib for his personal expenses buying expensive items during golfing holidays in Hawaii.
The senior lawyer also detailed how SRC, which was then a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), had been established and how Najib ended up wielding supreme power over it.
The court broke for lunch about 1pm and Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was seen joining her husband and their children for lunch at the court cafeteria.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters later Najib said he had effectively been left unrepresented following today's developments.
"I wish to record my objections in the strongest of terms over what has happened. My rights to liberty and a fair trial is at stake. This is a very serious matter and I hope the court will take it into account and take remedial measures at some stage."
The hearing continues tomorrow.
Najib is appealing against the 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine that was imposed on him by Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali for misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International money.