PUTRAJAYA: The judge who convicted Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case did not err in law when he added more grounds in his written judgment compared to the verbal ruling he delivered in court earlier, the Court of Appeal heard.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said Section 182A of the Criminal Procedure Code gave the judge the right to do so.
He said the law stated that the court must consider all evidence before it at the conclusion of the trial in order to decide whether the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and not only the prima facie findings.
“According to the defence, this is illegal, ” Sithambaram said, referring to the additional grounds of judgment.
“But the law as it stands, shows the judge has every right, after giving an oral ruling, to add further grounds in his findings of his prima facie case. That is not illegal, ” he said here yesterday.
The prosecutor was defending the grounds of judgment by Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who convicted the former prime minister in the SRC case.
The defence had, in an appeal against the judgment and conviction yesterday, contended that the grounds of judgment were not in accordance with the law because after his oral ruling, the judge, in his final grounds of judgment, could not add anything on the prima facie findings that was not included in the earlier ruling.
Sithambaram said the defence had, both inside and outside of court, submitted and commented that the judge was biased in handling the defence case by saying that the judge was “the second prosecutor in the case”, “hopelessly incompetent”, and had “demonstrated incompetence”.
“This submission is made to save the integrity of this grounds of judgment and in a wider context, to ensure that the due administration of justice is not in any way tainted.
“I’m here not to support the judge per se but if the judgment is attacked, then the judge is attacked, ” he added.
On April 6, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in his submission, described Justice Mohd Nazlan as “hopelessly incompetent” and that the judge had “poisoned” his own grounds of judgment by adding elements that were previously not there in his decision.
After 12 days of hearing, both sides have completed their submissions and rebuttals.
The defence will be making its final reply when the hearing resumes next Tuesday.
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 was held before a three-man panel chaired by Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil. The other judges were Justices Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.