PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic) wants the Court of Appeal to issue a directive for the media and the public on what can and cannot be discussed in his criminal case involving SRC International Sdn Bhd funds, to avoid contempt of court.
Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who represented the former prime minister, submitted to a Court of Appeal panel that statements that touched on the merits of the case by the media or the public could be subjudice to his client.
He added that the judiciary must protect the integrity of the justice system in the country and not allow the public discuss or make their own decisions in the case.
“You (the court) can’t allow the public to take over your function.
“The court now has got to do it because the Attorney General said nobody can force him to do it (issue an advisory),” Muhammad Shafee said here on Monday (March 11).
Co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh had earlier submitted to the three-man panel a precedent in the United Kingdom where a court there issued an outline for the media in the form of an advisory note.
“No publication should assert or assume the guilt of a person involved in the case,” he said.
Harvinderjit added that despite losing the motion at the High Court, the directive that they sought was mentioned in the judge's written grounds.
Both lawyers were submitting in an appeal filed by Najib to set aside a High Court's decision that dismissed his application for a gag order against the media and the public from discussing the merits in his criminal case.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas submitted that the High Court's decision on the matter must be read in whole and not to be picked and chosen only on certain matters.
He also pointed out that the appellant gave a precedent based on a UK court that employs a jury system, which is not the same with Malaysia.
Court of Appeal judge Zabariah Mohd Yusof chaired the panel.
Justices Rhodzariah Bujang and Lau Bee Lan also sat on the panel.
The appeal hearing continues on Tuesday (March 12).
Najib claimed trial on July 4 last year to a charge of using his position as the prime minister and finance minister to receive an RM42mil gratification when he was involved in the government’s decision in providing a guarantee for an RM4bil loan from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
He also claimed trial to three counts of criminal breach of trust under Section 409 of the Penal Code.
On Aug 8, 2018, Najib was slapped with another three counts of money laundering amounting to RM42mil that was linked to SRC International.