Shafee says gag order to stop judgemental statements on Najib

Lawyer Shafee Abdullah (right) speaking to reporters after Najib Razak posted bail.

KUALA LUMPUR: Senior lawyer Shafee Abdullah, representing Najib Razak in his abuse of power and criminal breach of trust case, defended the interim gag order he had obtained from the High Court today.

He said the gag order was to preserve the “integrity” of the criminal cases from public comments against Najib before the trial began.

“The primary aim is to stop anyone from making statements in the media that are seen as unfair to Najib.

“Statements like ‘Najib is guilty’ or even ‘Najib is innocent’ must not be made,” he said, after accompanying Najib to post bail for his four charges.

However, Shafee said, the gag order did not include news reporting on court proceedings as the courts were open to the public to observe.

Earlier, the High Court granted an interim gag order, sought by Shafee, against the media from discussing the merits of the case.

Shafee said, “We have a good defence and you will see when trial starts.”

Najib’s trial is expected to start on January 2019.

Asked if he expected more charges against Najib, the lawyer, who has vast experience in criminal and civil cases, said, “I leave it to your imagination on why the authorities did not charge him for the bigger issue, 1MDB”.

Earlier today, Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas was coy about whether more charges would be preferred against Najib.

“No doubt there will be more MACC IPs,” he said, referring to investigation papers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Meanwhile, Shafee criticised former attorney-general Gani Patail, who leads the 1MDB task force, for issuing a statement saying that Najib had been arrested.

“I don’t know what the task force is doing. And it looks like they are ‘advising’ the AG on exercising his discretion,” he claimed.

He added, “this is one occasion where I agree with the Malaysian Bar’s statement on Najib.”

Yesterday, Bar president George Varughese criticised the 1MDB task force for issuing a statement on Najib’s arrest at his house. Varughese said the team had no legal standing to either arrest Najib or to decide whether or not Najib should be charged.