Lawyers say release of Najib clips against ‘rule of law’

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla asks whether the release of the audio clips will favour the prosecution or Najib Razak in the present SRC International trial.

PETALING JAYA: Haniff Khatri Abdulla accused the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) of going against the “rule of law” by releasing alleged audio recordings of Najib Razak and several officials in discussions over dealings linked to 1MDB and SRC International.

The prominent lawyer said that anti-graft chief Latheefa Koya should have instructed her officers to lodge a police report and hand over the recordings to the police.

He said if the recordings had hinted at any criminal activity, they should be probed under the Penal Code and not the MACC Act.

He also said any evidence cannot be made public as this could affect the probe and leave a negative impression on the public, especially in view of the fact that an investigation had yet to be carried out.

Yesterday, the anti-graft body released nine audio clips purportedly featuring Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor, ex-MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad as well as the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan.

The MACC said it will conduct its own investigations and will hand the case over to the police, as most of the offences come under the Penal Code.

Latheefa said some of these offences were abuse of power, criminal conspiracy, and attempts to fabricate evidence.

“Sadly, Latheefa and the MACC had contravened the rule of law by releasing the audio recording. This should not be done by any enforcement agency.

“Any crime or wrongdoing cannot be punished by going against the ‘rule of law’ principle,” Haniff said.

He also wondered if the MACC had preempted the court that was currently putting the former prime minister on trial and asked if it was also a form of contempt of court.

He also wondered if the release of the clips would favour the prosecution or Najib.

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 criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the former 1MDB unit.

‘Trial by media’

DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh also slammed the MACC’s broadcasting of the recordings, saying it was “improper” and could lead to a trial by media.

The Bukit Gelugor MP said while everyone wanted to know if those implicated in the recordings were responsible for any offences, it was a matter for the courts to decide and not for the media or agencies investigating the matter.

“If such a trend were to continue, we will soon see alleged criminals being found guilty in a press conference and not a court of law.

“If there is evidence against the individuals implicated in the said recordings, charge them and present these recordings in court as evidence for consideration,” he said in a statement.

Ramkarpal, a lawyer himself, said the rule of law must be observed.

“And the actions of the MACC here are inconsistent with it.”

He also personally felt that spying on people by tapping their telephone conversations is unconstitutional, although it may be provided for by the law.

He said it could not be condoned as it infringes on “our right to privacy”.