KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has warned Najib Razak to refrain from posting anything in the social media about his on-going SRC International trial.
“Any other publication (by Najib) risks contempt,” Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said after listening to Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Najib’s lead counsel.
Thomas had earlier complained to Nazlan that Najib had scandalised the court by making sub-judice remarks in a Facebook posting.
On Monday, the court had heard that about RM3.9 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s money was used in 2014 and 2015 to settle the former prime minister’s credit card bills.
Najib later took to Facebook to explain how the money was spent.
Thomas told the court that if Najib had anything to say in his defence, he should say it in court and not on social media.
He said the prosecution believed Najib had made the comments about his credit card spending without advice from his defence counsel.
Thomas and Shafee will continue submissions on the matter on Monday.
Shafee said Nazlan had made a fair ruling.
Thomas, in bringing to the attention of Nazlan that Najib had posted comments about his ongoing corruption and criminal breach of trust trial on Facebook, demanded an apology and an undertaking from Najib that he would not repeat it.
Shafee told Nazlan that Najib’s conduct did not amount to sub-judice as his client did not make a controversial statement or something that would prejudice any party.
”His statement did not exert any pressure on anyone nor influence the court,” he said, adding he needed until Monday to make a comprehensive submission.
Shafee assured the court that Najib would be more circumspect about what he posted.
Shafee pointed out that the defence had previously applied for a gag order to restrain anyone from discussing the case outside the court but that this had been denied.
The lawyer then accused the media of unfair reporting, especially in refusing to highlight all the defence points raised by Najib in response to the prosecution’s case.
“They are cherry-picking and being selective,” he said, adding that the media had refused to highlight that the money in Najib’s accounts were donations from a Saudi prince.
He said Najib could not wait much longer to advance his case because as a politician ” he needs to survive”.
Thomas said freedom of speech was not absolute and the accused was doing a balancing act in view of his on-going trial.
He said Najib never ceased to be an accused although he was just another politician.
“The price of being an accused is that he has the last word. He should allow the prosecution’s case to unfold in court,” he added.
Thomas, who defended the media, said they were merely reporting the prosecution’s version and until then Najib had to restrain himself.
Najib, 66, is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering over SRC International Sdn Bhd funds amounting to RM42 million.
The Pekan MP was charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.