Najib to know outcome of SRC International leave to review application on March 31

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak will know whether he is allowed to review his conviction and sentence in the RM42mil SRC International Sdn Bhd case on Friday (March 31).

The Federal Court is set to deliver its decision on Friday (March 31), a deadline that a five-judge panel gave itself in the former prime ministry's application for leave to review his conviction and sentence.

After hearing a lengthy submission by the defence and the prosecution over the span of six days in January and February on why Najib should or should not be given leave for the review, panel chair Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli had said the court's decision would come "no later than March 31".

Other judges on the bench are Federal Court judges Justices Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Rhodzariah Bujang, Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Justice Abu Bakar Jais.

If leave is granted, the Federal Court will then fix a date to have Najib's review application heard on its full merits.

If the leave is not granted, Najib will have to resign himself to his fate in Kajang Prison.

Najib is seeking leave to review the Federal Court's decision of Aug 23, 2022 which upholds the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to convict and sentence him to 12 years in jail and a RM210mil fine in the RM42mil SRC International case.

One of the points raised by Najib's team was the "fundamental failure of a fair trial", which Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah attributed to the previous Federal Court panel that "enforced" lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik to remain on board as Najib's lead counsel in the final appeal hearing.

This was despite Hisyam wanting to discharge himself due to time constraints.

During the final appeal last August, Hisyam had sought for an adjournment of the proceedings for three to four months as he had only taken over the matter several weeks earlier.

However, the five-judge panel chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat gave a stern 'no' to the request.

Meanwhile, lead prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram told the Federal Court that Najib was complicit with his new counsel in seeking an adjournment during the final appeal despite knowing that the hearing dates had been fixed four months before.

He said Najib had taken on new lawyers with the hope of postponing the hearing of the appeal and so the court had the right to refuse the adjournment sought.

There was no breach of natural justice with this refusal, Sithambaram said, as it was "self-inflicted".

On Sept 6, last year, Najib applied for leave to review the Federal Court's decision, claiming a "miscarriage of justice" in his case.

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