Transfer of judge a routine matter, say experts

KUALA LUMPUR: The transfer of Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who presided over the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, out of a criminal court is to replace a judge retiring from a civil court.

A statement by the Chief Registrar’s Office here yesterday confirmed that Justice Nazlan’s transfer from Criminal High Court 3 to New Civil Court (NCvC) 2 will be effective March 1.

“This is a normal practice for judges. Justice Nazlan’s transfer to the civil court is to replace Justice Wong Chee Lin who will be retiring, ” the Chief Registrar’s Office said.

Previously, before he was assigned to the criminal court, Justice Nazlan was attached to the commercial division and has experience as well as expertise in civil and commercial matters, it added.

“There are about 30 remaining criminal cases at High Court 3 and the court shall be shut down (upon completion of the cases), ” it said.

The criminal cases before Justice Nazlan will continue to be heard before him until their completion even after the effective transfer date.

On July 28 last year, Justice Nazlan sentenced Datuk Seri Najib Razak to 12 years in jail and a fine of RM210mil, in default of five years’ jail, for the single count of abuse of power.

The Pekan MP was found guilty of one count of power abuse, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and three counts of money laundering involving RM42mil from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Najib was sentenced to 10 years’ jail each for the three counts of CBT and three counts of money laundering. Najib is out on bail pending an appeal.

Bar Council president Salim Bashir Bhaskaran said the change was a normal administrative transfer and Justice Nazlan would be required to complete part-heard matters before his transfer.

Another lawyer, Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, also said the transfer was something normal, and should not be cause for concern.

“It’s a sort of lateral transfer and something very normal within the judiciary, and it can happen within a court, a state or interstate, ” said the former president of the Bar Council.

But lawyer and activist Siti Kassim expressed her concern.

“While judges get moved across different courts and division, I find it disturbing that only he got transferred, ” she said.

Justice Nazlan has a few more cases on his plate to conclude before his transfer, with Najib’s ongoing CBT case involving RM6.6bil among them.

The former premier will face the trial with former treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, and they face six counts of CBT.

Justice Nazlan is also set to deliver his end-of-defence decision on Feb 3 in a corruption case linked to the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites by Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd involving former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad.

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