PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence that he believed he had received funds from the Saudi King’s donation was nothing short of a weak fabrication and self-serving evidence, the Court of Appeal heard.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said evidence showed clearly that Najib could not have believed that the money, being the subject matter of the charges in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case, were Arab donations.
Sithambaram was submitting the prosecution’s rebuttal in the hearing of an appeal filed by Najib against his conviction and sentence in the SRC case here on Wednesday (April 21).
He said there were inconsistencies and contradictions in Najib’s evidence regarding a purported meeting with the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Najib’s defence had maintained that the Arab donations were a pledge of support from the late King which occurred at a personal meeting arranged by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, on Jan 11, 2010.
Najib, together with several other individuals including former envoy Datuk Prof Syed Omar Al-Saggaf (DW4), former ministers Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom (DW5) and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (DW6), were present in the meeting.
The three (DW4, DW5 and DW6) testified during the defence stage to corroborate Najib’s narrative on the Arab donation, specifically on the meeting with the late King, but Sithambaram said their evidence contradicted each other.
“Both DW4 and DW6 could not verify this (the King’s promised financial support) as they were both not privy to the discussion and were only later informed by the appellant (Najib) of the details.
“For all intents and purposes, it is submitted that their evidence is not credible and also hearsay evidence as they cannot verify nor confirm the matter as they had no personal knowledge of any financial pledge by the King to the appellant,” he added.
Only DW5, who spoke Arabic, purportedly heard and confirmed that the late King promised to provide financial support.
“It is such an irony that the persons least affected by the contribution remembered the incident in greater detail than the appellant, who was directly the interested party and the recipient of the alleged donation,” Sithambaram said.
The prosecution also submitted that Najib did not testify of the purported pledge by the King to him, which was the most important detail of the whole visit and the most vital piece of evidence for his own defence.
“It is the respondent’s contention that the said details could not have been inadvertently left out from the appellant’s witness statement or his evidence in court,” Sithambaram said.
While the three witnesses (DW4, DW5 and DW6) testified to the purported meeting, Sithambaram said the meeting could not have taken place as the appellant himself did not testify the same.
“This is but an afterthought evidence to bolster the appellant’s defence.
“There is no explanation for this glaring omission from the appellant’s evidence, which is the crux of the defence, that his funds were all Arab donations,” he added.
The prosecution also questioned the alleged close relationship between Low and the royal family, as claimed by Najib, that Low was able to arrange the meeting.
“Looking at it (the evidence), I think we need Jho Low to be our minister of foreign affairs since he is the one arranging things,” Sithambaram jested.
On July 28 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of criminal breach of trust as well as each of the three counts of money laundering.
Najib, 68, is currently out on bail of RM2mil in two sureties pending appeal.
The appeal hearing continues Wednesday afternoon before a three-man panel chaired by Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.
Other judges on the panel were Justices Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.