Najib makes last bid to stall his criminal trial

Former prime minister Najib Razak. (Bernama Pic)

PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak has made a last-ditch effort to postpone his criminal trial pending the outcome of an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

The former prime minister today filed a stay application until a decision is made whether the public prosecutor can withdraw his certificates to transfer cases from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh said the stay application was filed in the Court of Appeal registry this afternoon with a certificate of urgency.

“We are hoping the stay application can be heard on Monday,” he told FMT.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur has scheduled to begin Najib’s trial on Tuesday.

Najib is facing six charges linked to money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million into his account from former 1MDB unit SRC International.

He is also accused of abusing his power as the prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc.

Yesterday, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed Najib’s oral application to postpone the trial.

Nazlan had allowed the public prosecutor to withdraw his certificate to transfer his seven charges in relation to SRC International from the High Court to the Sessions Court.

The judge then acted “suo motu” (used his discretion) under Section 417 of the Criminal Procedure Code to transfer back the cases to his court for him to preside over the trial.

Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas, who is also the public prosecutor, had issued certificates under Section 418A of the CPC to transfer Najib’s cases from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

Thomas said the power to transfer cases had been regularly used since amendments to Article 121(1) of the Federal Constitution in 1988.

However, in view of the Federal Court’s decisions in the cases concerning Semenyih Jaya (2017) and M Indira Gandhi (2018), Thomas said he was withdrawing the certificate to avoid any possible argument that the transfer (from the Sessions Court to the High Court) was a nullity.