PUTRAJAYA, Jan 18 — Tomorrow, the Federal Court is scheduled to hear Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to review its previous ruling to uphold his conviction and 12 years’ jail sentence and fine for misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
The former prime minister is seeking to overturn the decision made by a five-member bench of the Federal Court led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on August 23 last year or for his appeal to be reheard.
The earlier panel comprised then Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim (now Court of Appeal President) and Federal Court judges Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah (now Chief Judge of Malaya), Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan and Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan.
The new panel will hear Najib’s final attempt via court proceedings to set aside the ruling. The hearing is scheduled to commence at 9am. Najib, 69, is currently serving a 12-year jail term in Kajang prison.
On January 9, Justice Tengku Maimun, during a press conference, said there are enough Federal Court judges to form the panel to hear Najib’s review application.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on Najib’s review application, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, said Najib’s legal team will have to convince the new panel that the previous panel did not give a fair hearing in the case.
“If they can persuade the court on any issue that shows Najib did not receive a fair hearing at all, the court can overturn the previous Federal Court order. To set aside that order, the appeal has to be reheard because it has not been heard yet. The appeal will be fixed for rehearing before another panel.
“When the new panel hears the fresh appeal in the Federal Court, then they can decide the matter… if again Najib’s lawyers manage to convince the new panel that the whole conviction by the High Court and the maintaining of the conviction by the Appeals Court was also legally flawed then they can set aside the conviction,” he said.
However, Mohamed Haniff stated that if Najib’s review application is rejected, then the matter will end as there are no more appeals from the review.
“That is the end of the whole judicial proceedings for Najib in the SRC matter,” he said.
On August 23, 2022, Justice Tengku Maimun in dismissing Najib’s final appeal had said that in the appeals where counsel is present in name and in person but persistently refused to make any submission despite repeated calls from the court to do so, the court is empowered to proceed with the appeals according to Section 92 of the Courts of the Judicature Act 1964.
Having said that, she said the bench proceeded to consider Najib’s appeals by having regard to the appeal records including the petition of appeal setting out no less than 94 grounds of appeal, the submissions filed in the Court of Appeal and the written judgements of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, lawyer Nizam Bashir said the Federal Court has the power to hear an application for review under Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995.
“To succeed, keeping in mind that any exercise of this Rule 137, jurisdiction would only be undertaken sparingly. and only in rare and exceptional circumstances to prevent injustice. The application itself must show that there is an injustice or abuse of the process of the court,” he said.
The former Pekan MP has also filed a petition seeking a royal pardon for his conviction in the SRC International case.
Besides that, Najib through Messrs Shafee & Co had on January 5 filed a petition before the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD).
The petition was filed at the office of the High Commission of Geneva via digital submission in which he is seeking a release or a retrial following the Federal Court appeal hearing which he claimed had serious defects and was contrary to the rules of international justice.