Najib files petition with UN for arbitrary detention


KUALA LUMPUR: Claiming there were "serious defects" in the hearing before Datuk Seri Najib Razak was sentenced to jail, a petition was sent to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) to ask for a release or a retrial of the SRC International Sdn Bhd case, says Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

His counsel said that the former premier’s petition was sent on Thursday afternoon (Jan 5) to the UNWGAD over the corruption case.

The petition stated that the dismissal of Najib's appeal at the Federal Court on Aug 23 last year was "unjust, flawed and violated his basic human rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia" and reeked of "rushed justice".

Shafee, in a media conference Thursday, also said that Najib, is currently on a less-oil diet to control the bleeding of his ulcers and is being monitored by the health authorities in Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

On the UN petition, Shafee claimed that the Federal Court had never turned down a request for an adjournment when new lawyers were appointed, especially when it is a "massive case to prepare for".

He claimed that Najib was not only denied the right to a Queen's Counsel representing him, but was also denied the right to a fair hearing as his new lawyers were not allowed an adjournment.

Shafee claimed that there were serious breaches of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Malaysia is a party to, as Najib was not allowed "an effective counsel" during the hearing.

"The Federal Court proceedings failed to accord him a reasonable opportunity to argue his case and denied his lawyers (Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew) adequate time to prepare it.

"The court did not allow his defence team even to make submissions in the appeal against his sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment.

"In essence, Najib had been sent to jail without the opportunity to defend himself at the Federal Court.

"The final few days of the appeal, in August, amounted to a ‘rushed justice’ when his lawyers were not allowed the time that was obviously needed to read the many tens of thousands of pages of the appeal papers or to come to grips with the 94 grounds of appeal that his previous lawyers had filed," said Shafee.

He said that Najib seeks UNWGAD to decide whether his trial was fair, and if not, call upon the government to release him or provide him with a retrial.

"Although this decision is not directly binding, it is very influential especially as Malaysia has a distinguished jurist who is currently a member of the working group.”

Shafee likened the case of Najib to that of the current president Luiz de Silva (Lula) of Brazil, who was also jailed but was released after advice by UNWGAD.

(Lula was Brazil’s President from 2003 to 2010 and a target in a massive corruption probe called Operation Car Wash. In April last year, UNWGAD stated that his trial had violated the due process. Lula was released in time to stand in Brazil's general election and was once again made President.)

Shafee said he hoped that the UNWGAD would look into the case at its first sitting of the year on Jan 9.

"We had also sent a copy to the international division of the Attorney General's Chambers. We might send a copy to the Prime Minister himself," said Shafee, when asked if he will lobby Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to support the petition.

On Aug 23 last year, Najib became the first Malaysian prime minister to be jailed after he failed in his final appeal against the High Court's guilty conviction over the SRC International corruption case.

The five judges on the bench in the Federal Court were Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Federal Court judges Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.

The Court of Appeal had on Dec 8, 2021 upheld the High Court’s July 2020 verdict and sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210mil meted against Najib.

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