Prosecution opposes QC’s application to defend Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: A foreign lawyer who lacks knowledge of the domestic criminal laws and procedures could not possibly have special qualifications or experience applicable to the RM42mil SRC International Sdn Bhd’s appeal at the Federal Court, the prosecution said.

In an affidavit-in-opposition, the prosecution contended it to be “strange” that out of the 21,625 lawyers in the country, none was equipped to defend the said charges faced by Datuk Seri Najib Razak when the Pekan MP’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah himself and his team defended the appellant (Najib) at the High Court to the Federal Court.

The affidavit, affirmed deputy public prosecutor Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul, was filed to oppose an application by British lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw, who is seeking to be admitted as a lawyer in Malaysia for him to appear as the lead counsel in Najib’s final appeal.

The affidavit was filed on Sunday and was made available to the press yesterday.

DPP Mohd Ashrof said Muhammad Shafee and his team had handled the SRC case, including the various interlocutory matters, the trial and appeal from the High Court to the Federal Court over the last three years.

“It is an irony to say that there are no local lawyers with special qualification or experience when compared to the applicant (Laidlaw) to defend these charges.

“The applicant himself has no experience in arguing these charges before the Malaysian courts.

“It is hard to fathom how the applicant, being a stranger to the domestic law, is more equipped and qualified than senior local criminal lawyers, including Muhammad Shafee, who regularly appears before all tiers of the Malaysian courts to argue similar cases,” he said.

Laidlaw also does not have the Bahasa Malaysia qualification as required under subsection 11(2) of the Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976, DPP Mohd Ashrof said.

On the issue that a Queen’s Counsel (QC) could help with novel issues in the appeal, the prosecutor said the issues, though might be deemed novel, were not difficult and had been carefully deliberated by the respective judges at the trial and the appeal.

“So it is erroneous to claim that these issues remain novel or complex in light of the findings of the learned trial judge as found and affirmed by the Court of Appeal,” he said.

DPP Mohd Ashrof further asserted that the application was unmeritorious and ought to be summarily dismissed.

On May 31, Laidlaw filed a notice of originating motion through Messrs Shafee & Co at the High Court for his admission as a lawyer in Malaysia.

It said that Najib, as the appellant, had sought to engage Laidlaw’s professional services to act as lead counsel in the appeal.

“For the purposes of the appeal, the applicant possesses special qualifications, experience and expertise, which is not available among advocates and solicitors in Malaysia,” it stated.

It also said that Laidlaw was eligible and qualified to be admitted and enrolled to practice as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya, pursuant to Section 18(1) of the LPA to appear as counsel for Najib in the appeal and all other related causes or matters.

On Jan 25, Messrs Shafee & Co submitted a six-page letter to the secretariat of Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Najib’s intention to appoint a QC to assist him in complex issues and legal questions in his SRC appeal.

The QC appointment will be on an ad hoc basis after obtaining admission from the Malaysian court.

Najib’s appeal will be heard in a 10-day hearing from Aug 15 to 19 and Aug 22 to 26.

On July 28, 2020, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali (now a Court of Appeal judge) convicted and sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and a fine of RM210mil on seven charges involving criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of position involving SRC funds.

The conviction and sentence were upheld by the Court of Appeal.

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court , SRC International , Najib Razak


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