Malaysian Bar warns of disciplinary action for attempting to delay SRC trial

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PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has cautioned Najib Razak’s legal team of disciplinary action after it sought to postpone the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

The Bar’s president, George Varughese, said the move by the former prime minister’s legal team, led by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, appeared to be a “frivolous” application, which was a breach of the Legal Profession Rules.

Non-compliance with the rules may be regarded as misconduct under the Legal Profession Act 1976.

“And it may lead to disciplinary proceedings being taken against an advocate and solicitor or a pupil reading in chambers,” he said in a statement.

“As members of a honourable profession and officers of the court, it behoves us to conduct ourselves ethically, and with professionalism, integrity and propriety at all times.”

The Bar, he added, did not condone the application by Najib’s legal team, especially if the intention is to delay the trial.

“Counsel should assist the court to complete trials in a prompt and professional manner, especially in cases of such significant public interest,” he said, adding that the defence team had over seven months to prepare, which was “a reasonable amount of time”.

Yesterday, it was revealed that Najib’s lawyers had applied to postpone the trial of his seven charges relating to the former 1MDB subsidiary.

Shafee’s firm had written to the High Court last week for the trial, scheduled on Feb 12, to be vacated as there were three interlocutory appeals now before the Court of Appeal.

The appeals are related to Najib’s objection to the appointment of lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah as prosecution lead, restraining the media from reporting the case beyond the trial and a discovery application by the accused.

It is unclear if the Court of Appeal has fixed the dates to hear these appeals.

Najib has claimed trial to seven charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and abuse of power, all of them related to RM42 million in funds from SRC International.

The prosecution, headed by Manoj Kurup, did not agree to the postponement, arguing that the court must reject the move as the case was of public interest.

He said the application was frivolous and would cause undue delay to the trial.