Court dismisses three of Najib's appeals

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (centre) leaves the High Court in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on March 21, 2019.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (centre) leaves the High Court in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on March 21, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed three out of four applications by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak relating to charges of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power involving RM42 million (S$14 million).

"We dismiss the appeal and affirm the decision of the High Court," said Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof, who led a three-member judiciary panel that had heard submissions from the defence and prosecution over four days.

However, the panel allowed an appeal over the appointment of lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah as lead prosecutor in the case, and ordered the prosecution to produce his letter of appointment.

The dismissed appeals are related to a gag order to prohibit the media from discussing the case's merits; an application to obtain documents and statements from the prosecution; and a High Court decision to allow Attorney-General Tommy Thomas' application to withdraw a certificate to transfer seven charges against Najib from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

The defence will appeal at the Federal Court over the three decisions that went against Najib, while the prosecution will appeal against the decision on Datuk Sulaiman's appointment.

The court granted a stay on the trial pending the appeals.

"We will be filing an appeal as soon as possible," said deputy public prosecutor Manoj Kurup.

Najib was charged with allegedly pocketing RM42 million linked to SRC International, a former subsidiary of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

On July 4 last year, the 66-year-old former premier claimed trial to four of the charges - three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power.

The trial was scheduled to run from Feb 12 to March 29 this year, but has been postponed due to the four appeals filed by his lawyers.

The appeals hearing was delayed last week when defence lawyer Shafee Abdullah said his pet dog had jumped on him and injured his wrist.

Critics have said the appeals - mainly procedural - are delaying tactics by Najib's team.

The SRC trial is the first of four trials faced by Najib, who faces a total of 42 charges of corruption and money laundering.

1MDB is now being wound up after incurring a crippling debt of up to RM51 billion, with an alleged US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) siphoned from its accounts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'Court dismisses three of Najib's appeals'. Print Edition | Subscribe