KUALA LUMPUR: The Court of Appeal’s decision this afternoon to allow Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to postpone his trial which is scheduled tomorrow serves as evidence of the fact that the defence counsel are being given room to ventilate the legal issues relevant to the trial, said a legal expert.
Constitutional law expert Nizam Bashir Abdul Kariem Bashir said lawyers file stay applications to ensure that the outcome of an appeal is not rendered useless, and consequently, the Court of Appeal’s panel must have felt that the outcome of the appeal would be rendered futile if a stay was not granted.
“More importantly, I think the Court of Appeal’s decision also serves as evidence of the fact that the rule of law is being observed in Najib’s trial and the defence team is being given room to ventilate the legal issues relevant to the trial.
“So, it may be time to put to rest the delay tactic aspect of the defence strategies. At least in the present instance,” he told the New Straits Times.
Meanwhile, former deputy public prosecutor Farhan Read who is currently Najib’s counsel for the case said the adjournment granted by the Apex Court was not a delay tactic.
He said the application for postponement by Najib’s defence team followed the move by Attorney-General (A-G) Tommy Thomas on Thursday to withdraw three charges against Najib.
“It is not a delay tactic. What AG did on Thursday is unprecedented and amounts to a usurpation of the court’s jurisdiction,” he said.
Farhan added that what the AG should have done, if he wanted to proceed without controversy, was to withdraw the seven original charges and re-charge Najib properly at the Sessions Court.
“But he did not do this because, ego I think… If AG had withdrawn the charges, it would not have looked good for the press. But it was the proper thing to do.
“If you ask any criminal practitioner, they will agree that that is the proper procedure,” he said.
This afternoon, the Court of Appeal allowed Najib’s application to postpone his trial on the seven charges related to the SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds.
However, a trial date has not been fixed pending the outcome of Najib’s bid to challenge the prosecution’s withdrawal of his certificate of transfer.
Last Thursday, Najib was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the High Court on three additional charges of money-laundering totalling RM47 million framed against him on Jan 28.
Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali made the ruling after allowing the application by the prosecution, led by Thomas who proposed to not proceed with the three charges against Najib but would charge him with those charges later on.
Thomas also informed the court that the prosecution had sought to withdraw the certificate of transfer of the case relating to the seven existing charges involving SRC International funds to avoid any possible argument that the transfer is a nullity.
Najib was charged again with the three counts the following day (last Friday).
The money laundering case had originated from the Sessions Court, and this was pointed out by Najib’s defence team, who told the court on Thursday that the prosecution should have mentioned the case before the Sessions Court before transferring it to the High Court.
However, the prosecution had, on Jan 28, charged Najib at the High Court.