Appeal against acquittal automatic, says ex-AG

Former attorney-general Apandi Ali says the practice to appeal had been adopted since Abu Talib Othman was AG from 1980 to 1993. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali said the Attorney-General’s Chambers would automatically file an appeal after losing a criminal trial.

He said this practice had been adopted by the AGC since Abu Talib Othman was AG from 1980 to 1993.

“After filing such a notice, the AGC will normally study the grounds of judgment given by the trial judge, and then decide whether to proceed or not with the appeal,” he said in a statement.

Elaborating on this, lawyer A Ramu said it was mandatory for the prosecution or the accused to first file a notice of appeal within 10 days of a ruling.

“This will trigger the judge to write his grounds of judgment as it is mandatory to do so in criminal cases,” he said.

Ramu said the appealing party would then file a petition of appeal after the written judgment was released.

“This petition of appeal will state where the judge has erred in law and facts for the appellate court’s attention,” he said.

He said an appeal was deemed to have been dropped if there was no petition of appeal filed within the specified time.

“So the question of AG Tommy Thomas’ decision to rescind the notice of appeal in Rafizi Ramli’s case is a bit premature,” he said.

Apandi said it was a longstanding practice of the prosecution “to have 99% evidence to secure a conviction” before a criminal charge was preferred.

He said this was how the AGC remained apolitical and any prosecution was based strictly on the facts and the law.

“That is why the AGC had adopted the motto ‘Steadfast in upholding justice’ since 2016,” he said.

Apandi became the latest to weigh in on his successor Thomas’ claim that he was shocked that his department had filed an appeal against the acquittal of PKR vice-president Rafizi  of a charge of violating banking secrecy in a case involving the National Feedlot Corporation.

Thomas had told that he had decided against doing so and that the decision “was conveyed to the relevant officers”.

He also said that he would find out why the appeal was filed despite clear instructions given not to do so and promised disciplinary action against those responsible.

Thomas’ statement led to DAP MP Ramkarpal Singh claiming there were forces working within the AGC to discredit Thomas, while PAS defended the officer concerned and urged for the AG to be investigated instead.