Day 5. V Sithambaram: Najib’s SRC appeal derailed by last-minute change of lawyer


The Federal Court hearing of Najib Abdul Razak’s review application to quash his guilty verdict and sentence in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case enters the fifth day.

The five-person Federal Court bench, headed by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, is expected to continue hearing rebuttal submissions from lead deputy public prosecutor, V Sithambaram today.




DAY 5 | Najib ‘wrongly blamed’ over change of lawyer – Shafee

Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid

Published:  Feb 27, 2023 8:35 AM

Updated: 4:23 PM

Deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram contends that Najib Abdul Razak’s SRC International appeal had gone wrong for the former premier when the latter “changed horses midstream”.

The DPP says this in reference to Najib last year changing lawyers from Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to a new legal team comprising Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, as well as counsel from Zaid Ibrahim’s law firm.

Sithambaram questions why Najib was represented by Shafee from the High Court level of the SRC International case in 2018 and only changed lawyers in 2022 prior to the hearing of the appeal before the Federal Court in August last year.

“If not for this ‘changing of horses’, I do not think it (review) would be before Your Lordship today. While there is the (accused) right to choose counsel, the counsel must be ready to act and willing to act on the given day,” Sithambaram says.

Among the crux for the present review was that the previous apex court bench chaired by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat – which upheld the conviction and sentencing against Najib last year – had denied an application by the former premier’s then-counsel to adjourn the appeal hearing so they could prepare for it.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah contends that Najib Abdul Razak’s change of counsel before the SRC International appeal before the apex court last year, was bona fide (done in good faith).

In rebutting the prosecution’s arguments, Shafee says that the change of counsel was due to local courts not allowing United Kingdom-based lawyer and King’s Counsel Jonathan Laidlaw to be temporarily admitted to the Bar and represent the former premier in the SRC International appeal.

“There is no agenda to engineer adjournment,” Shafee tells the present five-person Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli.


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