PETALING JAYA: A lawyer says former prime minister Najib Razak may have to rely on his media statements to convince the public that he did not offer an accused money to plead guilty to the murder of deputy public prosecutor Kevin Morais.
Salim Bashir said this was the only option available as all other legal remedies were closed to Najib.
“He can make statements through traditional and social media to deny the accusation, but it is for the public to believe him or not,” he told FMT.
He was responding to Najib’s allegation that the accused, S Ravi Chandaran, had committed perjury by claiming that he was offered RM3.5 million through an unnamed prison officer. The former prime minister also called on the police to investigate Ravi’s claim.
Salim said Najib could not file a defamation suit against Ravi as the statement was made in the course of a criminal trial.
“The accused enjoys absolute immunity from any lawsuit since the statement was made in a court proceeding,” he said.
However, he said the prosecution could opt to impeach Ravi for giving a statement contrary to what he would have told the police during investigations.
“It is open to the prosecution to do that or concentrate on securing a conviction in the murder of Morais,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Najib denied Ravi’s allegation, calling it “completely and utterly untrue”.
“This is a most damning statement, to say the least, and does not do any justice to the late Morais nor to me.
“It is most unkind for Ravi to perjure in that way, attempting to take advantage of the current situation I am in and to further unfairly hurt my reputation,” he said, adding that he wondered if “someone” had put him up to it.
On Tuesday, Ravi also claimed in the High Court that Richard Morais, the victim’s elder brother, had offered him RM2 million to plead guilty to the murder.
However, lawyer N Sivananthan who is appearing for the first accused, pathologist Colonel Dr R Kunaseegaran, when cross-examining Ravi, suggested that his claims were all lies to save himself from the gallows.
Ravi, S Nimalan, R Dineshwaran, AK Thinesh Kumar and M Vishwanath were jointly charged with murdering Morais on Sept 4, 2015.
Kunaseegaran was charged with abetting in the murder.
Morais’ body was found in a drum filled with concrete at Persiaran Subang Mewah, Subang Jaya, on Sept 16, 2015.
He was last seen leaving his condominium in Menara Duta to drive to his office in Putrajaya.