KUALA LUMPUR — Feb. 7, 2019: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was today given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on three money laundering charges involving RM47 million following an application by the prosecution.
According to High Court judge Mohd. Nazlan Mohd. Ghazali, the public prosecutor has the power to discontinue or decline to prosecute at any stage of the trial.
“In my view of the request by the public prosecutor, I order that the accused be discharged not amounting to an acquittal of the three additional charges,” said Nazlan.
On January 28, Najib pleaded not guilty to the three charges which were a result of illegal activities allegedly committed on July 8, 2014.
Bernama quoted Attorney-General Tommy Thomas as saying that the prosecution did not intend to proceed with three charges but added thus: “I will be charging the accused with those charges before the Sessions Court shortly.”
“This will save time. I am taking these steps to prevent any challenge that may be taken at any stage that is bound to delay or nullify the trial and result in unnecessary public expense,” he said.
Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for Najib told the court he was surprised when the prosecution said it did not want to proceed with the three charges.
“This is not ‘kedai nasi kandar’ where you can just add on rice. The hearing will begin next Tuesday. What the prosecution will do? The three cases have nothing to do with the old cases (SRC International). The money and the banking account were different,” he said.
Nazlan ruled that the public prosecutor was similarly empowered to affect the withdrawal of the CPC certificate. “I hereby exercise my discretion under Section 417(2) of the CPC to order the transfer of seven charges from the Sessions Court to the High Court under Section 417(1)(e) of the CPC being expedient for the ends of justice,” he said.
The judge also said the seven charges should be continued to be tried before the High Court, as the cases had generated local and international interest, and he decided that there is also no prejudice to the accused.
Najib later filed an appeal to quash the ruling that allowed the prosecutor to withdraw the certificate.
Shafee told reporters the defence had also filed an appeal against the decision to reject the application for a stay of the trial on Monday.
“We have asked for a stay, we have exhausted that… we have made the application before the High Court judge but the stay was not granted,” he remarked before Court of Appeal Judges Datuk Kamardin Hashim, Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd. Diah.
Today the panel was scheduled to hear three appeals by Najib regarding a gag order to prohibit the media from discussing merits of his criminal cases; his application for discovery of documents and statements and his challenge on the appointment of lawyer Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah as the lead prosecutor in his criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money laundering cases.
All three applications were dismissed by Justice Nazlan.
Shafee argued before the panel that the High Court decision in allowing the prosecution’s application to withdraw the certificate would nullify the entire proceedings, adding that the court should have heard the appeal on the certificate of transfer first before hearing the three appeals.
Thomas countered that today’s appeals were related to the three appeals and had nothing to do with the appeal on the certificate of transfer.
Najib’s co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh told the court the defence would not use the present appeal for an adjournment of the appeals and trial, to which Justice Harmindar asked: “Are you asking for an adjournment?”
Harvinderjit: “Yes, for the three appeals but not for trial.”
The court fixed March 11 and 12 to hear the three appeals.