KUALA LUMPUR: All attention will be on Najib Razak tomorrow as the former prime minister begins his defence in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.
Lawyer Baljit Sidhu said Najib has to merely raise a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case to get an acquittal.
“His defence story may not be believable but he can go free if there is a doubt created in the mind of the trial judge,” he told FMT.
He said the prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt even at the close of the defence case.
On Nov 11, trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ordered Najib to enter his defence on all charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), abuse of power and money laundering.
He said the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the former prime minister, with credible evidence to prove the charges.
The trial has been fixed for another 10 days until Dec 19. The prosecution team is led by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram.
The defence has said the RM42 million was part of a donation from an Arab royal family and Najib’s private bank accounts were manipulated by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
The defence team, led by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, has taken the position that Najib had no knowledge of the allegations due to the roles played by then SRC CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and some Ambank rogue staff.
“Najib has to maintain the same line of defence when he and other witnesses give their testimonies,” Baljit said.
Lawyer Salim Bashir said the 66-year-old accused has three options under the law to rebut the prosecution’s case.
“An accused person could opt to give evidence under oath, give a statement from the dock or remain silent,” he said.
On Nov 11, Najib said he would give his testimony from the witness stand.
However, Salim said nothing prevents an accused from changing to the other available options.
Unlike an unsworn statement, a sworn statement would enable the prosecution to cross-examine Najib, with his lawyer then conducting a re-examination.
If the accused chooses to give an unsworn statement from the dock, Salim said, the prosecution cannot conduct a cross-examination.
He also said an accused has the right to remain silent, but that route taken means the court will have no choice but to order a conviction.
Najib is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.
He is also charged with three counts of money laundering and three counts of CBT in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the former 1MDB unit.
Najib is charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd on Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.