Apex court ruling paves the way for fresh dates in Najib’s SRC trial

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has paved the way for the High Court to fix fresh trial dates for Najib Razak, who faces seven charges in relation to SRC International.

A seven-member bench chaired by Chief Justice Richard Malanjum today set aside last week’s Court of Appeal ruling granting the former prime minister a stay of trial pending his appeal to the Federal Court.

“In our view, the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction to grant the stay, and as such, the order is set aside,” Malanjum said.

However, no reason was provided for this by the bench.

Malanjum added that the matter would be remitted to the High Court for immediate action.

The bench also dismissed an oral application by lawyer Harvinderjit Singh to stay today’s ruling pending Najib’s three appeals which are scheduled to be heard on April 4.

Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram told reporters the Attorney-General’s Chambers would write to judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali to inform him of today’s ruling.

“We will also write to the judge to fix an early trial date for the case,” he said.

Last year, Nazlan fixed Feb 12 to March 29 for the trial. However, the proceedings could not take off as Najib raised four preliminary issues.

The Court of Appeal dismissed three of these last week, allowing only one appeal. However, the three-member bench chaired by Zabariah Mohd Yusof granted him a stay, saying there are special circumstances involved.

Zabariah said there were novel issues to be decided by the Federal Court and the prospect of the seven charges being declared a nullity.

Others on the bench were Lau Bee Lan and Rhodzariah Bujang.

The bench also dismissed Najib’s appeal for additional documents on grounds that he is not entitled to privileged documents before the trial begins.

Zabariah also dismissed Najib’s appeal for a gag order to prevent the media and public from discussing his case.

Lau dismissed Najib’s appeal as well, saying Nazlan had allowed the public prosecutor to withdraw his certificate to transfer the former prime minister’s seven charges from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

She said Nazlan had given Najib’s lawyers the right to be heard before making his ruling.

She said the judge was also correct in using his discretion under Section 417 of the Criminal Procedure Code to transfer the cases back to his court for him to preside over the trial.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who is also the public prosecutor, issued the certificate under Section 418A of the Criminal Procedure Code to transfer Najib’s cases from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

However, Rhodazriah ordered Thomas to provide a copy of ad hoc prosecutor Sulaiman Abdullah’s appointment letter, saying the client-solicitor privileged communication under Section 126 of the Evidence Act was not applicable.