Sri Ram was out to have Najib charged and convicted, says Shafee

Najib Razak and Shafee Abdullah have applied to recuse senior lawyer and former judge Gopal Sri Ram.

KUALA LUMPUR: The appointment of former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram as a senior deputy public prosecutor in 1MDB-linked cases was to get Najib Razak charged and convicted, Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued today.

Making submissions in Najib’s suit to disqualify Sri Ram, Shafee said Sri Ram, as an appointed DPP, decided what evidence and documents that were needed to be produced in court.

“It is not important for Sri Ram to know the source of Najib’s monies either in the SRC International Sdn Bhd and 1MDB case. What was important to him was to charge Najib,” he said in his submission before High Court Judge Mariana Yahya.

“The appointment of Sri Ram was particularly navigated with the purpose to get Najib charged and convicted,” Shafee said.

Najib’s other counsel, Harvinderjit Singh, argued that the Attorney-General, as Public Prosecutor, did not have the power to appoint a lawyer (Sri Ram) to be a part-time DPP while he was a practising lawyer at the same time.

He said the exercise of power under Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code “is wrong, unreasonable, irrational, and considerably improper”.

He added that Sri Ram was appointed to fulfil the promises of the then Pakatan Harapan government, and made reference to a series of WhatsApp conversations between Sri Ram and former Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali three days after the 2018 general election.

“Sri Ram had advised Mohamed Apandi to charge Najib. In that message, Sri Ram had already determined Najib as a criminal despite no Investigation Paper (IP) being opened at the material time. He has already pre-determined the criminality. What is worse, he already determined that Najib is going to face the music,” Harvinderjit said.

He added that the appointment of Sri Ram was mala fide (made in bad faith) and irrational.

However, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, representing the government and Sri Ram, submitted that “it is a sheer intellectual waste to engage in the hair-splitting argument on the legality of Sri Ram’s appointment” and said the appointment was in accordance with the law.

He said the language of the Criminal Procedure Code “is broad and permissive of the appointment” and did not expressly limit a potential senior DPP being chosen from only among the legal officers in the Judicial and Legal Service.

Shamsul added that the government, like any private party, can choose and appoint or authorise any advocate to appear on their behalf in any court of law.

After hearing arguments from both parties Justice Mariana fixed July 29 for further submissions on the applications by Najib and Shafee for a judicial review to challenge the Attorney-General’s decision to appoint Sri Ram as a deputy public prosecutor.

Shafee has also filed for a judicial review as he also seeks to recuse Sri Ram from appearing in Shafee’s own trial over a RM9.5 million money laundering charge, which has yet to commence.

Najib and Shafee contend that Sri Ram’s letter of appointment is invalid. They seek a declaration that there is a conflict of interest in Sri Ram’s appointment and request for an order to prohibit him from leading the prosecution team in all their cases, including those on charges of corruption, abuse of power and money laundering.

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