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Najib’s final appeal against SRC International conviction at the Federal Court today: What to expect

Datuk Seri Najib Razak speaking to the media at the Kuala Lumpur High Court press conference, June 7, 2022. The High Court on July 28, 2020 pronounced Najib guilty of three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering. For these six charges, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. ― Picture by Devan Manuel

By Kenneth Tee

Monday, 15 Aug 2022 7:00 AM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — It’s been about two years since former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was first found guilty of misappropriating RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, the former subsidiary of scandal-ridden 1MDB.

Last December, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s July 2020 verdict and sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million.

The case is now at the Federal Court and it is Najib’s last chance to convince the judges his conviction and punishment should be overturned.

Hearing in the country’s supreme court is scheduled to take place over nine days from today till August 19 and resume after the weekend on August 23 until August 26.

Here’s what to expect

At the onset of today’s hearing, the Federal Court is expected to hear Najib’s application to add purported new evidence and to ultimately seek a retrial of the SRC case.

If Najib fails to get the Federal Court judges to agree to a retrial, his lawyers will immediately have to present his final appeal against conviction and sentencing.

However, Najib recently switched out his entire team and the new lawyers have indicated that they are not ready to proceed and need more time to prepare. So, they are likely to formally ask for a postponement of the appeal hearing proper.

Wait, Najib has new lawyers?

Just in case you’re not caught up to the latest news, Najib abruptly discharged his counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and the rest of that legal team from representing him in the SRC case on July 25.

Shafee had been Najib’s lead defence lawyer in the SRC case at both the High Court and at the Court of Appeal.

Najib’s new team now comprises two law firms: Hisyam Teh and Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners.

Veteran lawyer Hisyam has been chosen to be lead counsel while Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam, the partners in the second law firm, are Najib’s solicitors in this case.

Brief recap of Najib’s conviction and sentence

The High Court on July 28, 2020 pronounced Najib guilty of three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering. For these six charges, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

But that’s not all. He was also found guilty of abusing his position as both prime minister and finance minister. For these, he was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million. If he doesn’t pay the fine, he is liable to get another five years in prison.

But trial judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali — who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal — ordered Najib to serve all the prison sentences concurrently. That means that Najib would only have to spend a maximum of 12 years behind bars.

On December 8 last year, a three-judge panel in the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled to uphold the High Court’s conviction and sentence.

The appellate court also said the sentence was wholly adequate and proportionate with his crimes.

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