PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has allowed an application by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to temporarily stay the hearing of his SRC International trial which is supposed to take place today.
Justice Ahmadi Asnawi, who chaired a three-man panel, said the court was satisfied that the applicant (Najib) had shown special circumstances for the court to grant a stay on the trial.
It was our unanimous view that if a stay was not granted and the trial goes ahead, it would render the proceeding a nullity that would result in a waste of time and public money, he said here yesterday.
Najib is currently appealing a High Court’s decision that allowed the prosecution to withdraw a certificate of transfer from the Sessions Court to the High Court on all his seven charges related to SRC International.
Last Friday, he filed for an application to stay the main trial – which was scheduled for an 11-day hearing starting today – pending the disposal of the appeal on the certificate of transfer.
Justice Ahmadi said the appellate court took note that the charges against Najib, which were in his capacity as the former prime minister, was of a serious nature.
He said the case had attracted international attention and should commence as scheduled but the applicant has proven his grounds for a stay.
He further said that the court did not find any evidence of delay tactic in Najib’s application, as claimed by the public prosecutor.
“We hereby allow the motion,” he said, adding that the stay should last until the disposal of Najib’s appeal.
Two other judges on the bench were Justices Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah and Yew Jen Kie.
Najib was represented by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah. Attorney General Tommy Thomas appeared for the prosecution.
Outside of the court, prominent criminal lawyer Datuk V. Sithambaram, who is appointed by the Attorney General Chambers to assist the prosecution, said the trial was just slightly delayed.
“We will be able to get it back on track.
It’s just a legal hiccup which happens,” he said.
On July 4, last year, the 66-year-old Pekan MP claimed trial to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
He allegedly misappropriated RM42mil in funds belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, a unit of 1MDB.
On Aug 8, 2018, he appeared in court again for the second time and was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42mil.
On Feb 7, High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan allowed an application for Thomas to withdraw the certificate to transfer the seven SRC International-related charges against Najib from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
The withdrawal, according to Muhammad Shafee, had affected the entire proceeding.