Public opinion not enough to convict Najib, lawyers tell Kit Siang

Lawyers Latheefa Koya and Akberdin Abdul Kader say former prime minister Najib Razak is innocent until proven guilty. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Public opinion does not count when it comes to determining if former prime minister Najib Razak is guilty under the law, says a lawyer after DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said the maxim “innocent until proven guilty” should not apply in Najib’s case.

Latheefa Koya.

Latheefa Koya said the people’s court is not a legal entity.

She said during the 14th general election (GE14), the people had expressed their opinion about Najib’s guilt by voting for Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“It’s clear from the election results that the people overwhelmingly believe Najib is guilty. And the people of Malaysia are entitled to that opinion. For a major political figure such as Najib, that is a damning opinion.

“However, that does not mean he is legally guilty in the eyes of the law. Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor remain innocent until the court passes a verdict of guilty,” she told FMT.

Latheefa said as such, one should not confuse guilt pronounced by a court of law with public opinion. “These are two different things.”

Latheefa was asked to comment on Lim’s statement that the results of GE14 had demonstrated why the maxim “innocent until proven guilty” was not applicable to Najib.

Lim, who is the MP for Iskandar Puteri, had backed fellow PH lawmaker Hanipa Maidin who earlier issued a statement saying that the maxim had to apply within a context, otherwise it would be rendered ridiculous.

Lim said the “people’s court” in GE14 had pronounced Najib guilty of the 1MDB kleptocracy scandal, a major issue in the general election campaign, and had ousted him as prime minister of Malaysia.

Justice is for everyone

Lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader said such statements were uncalled for by any politician in the country as justice in the court of law was applicable to everyone.

“In the court of law, anyone is innocent until found guilty. We do not follow the maxim of guilty until proven innocent. How can Kit Siang say it does not apply in the case of Najib?” he told FMT.

Akberdin said he hoped politicians would allow the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to probe the case and charge Najib accordingly.

“The statements could be seen as putting pressure on the AG and MACC,” he added.

Akberdin also questioned politicians who said Najib had lost the election due to 1MDB as there were other factors involved.

“There are other factors too, such as the goods and services tax and other corruption cases. Najib lost because of several reasons. We cannot decisively say it was because of 1MDB,” he added.

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