Najib given 30-day extension to file petition of appeal in SRC case

Najib's (pic) defence was granted the extension to file their petition by Oct 28. (Photo by The Edge)

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PUTRAJAYA (Sept 25): A three-member Court of Appeal bench today allowed former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak's application for a 30-day extension to file a petition of appeal against his conviction, 12 years' jail and RM210 million fine in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case.

The panel, led by Justice Datuk Has Zanah Mehat, granted the extension after the prosecution led by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul did not object to the application for an extension.

Hence, Najib's defence was granted the extension to file their petition by Oct 28.

The other judges on the panel were Justices Datuk Lee Swee Seng and Datuk Nordin Hassan.

Najib's lawyer Muhammad Farhan Shafee told the bench that the extension is needed for the time needed to peruse through voluminous documents related to the appeal.

“We seek this (the extension of time) because the record of appeal is 112 volumes, while the grounds of judgement [of the High Court verdict] are 801 pages. In the interest of substantive justice, we need time to adequately prepare the petition [of appeal],” Farhan told the court.

The petition of appeal is for parties to file or list the grounds (reasons) for the defence to appeal against the conviction and sentence.

The defence filed the record of appeal on Sept 17, and it was supposed to lapse after 10 days on Sept 28 (next Monday).

Meanwhile, it is understood that the prosecution, as reported by theedgemarkets.com, did not file its petition or sought an extension of time to file the document as they filed the record of appeal on Sept 10, and the lapse time fell on Sept 21 (Monday).

This, as reported, put to question the prosecution's continued intention to appeal against the former premier's sentence of 12 years in jail and the fine of RM210 million despite filing the notice of appeal on Aug 7.

Several lawyers, including Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, have demanded that Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun explain the reasons for not filing the petition of appeal in a case that had caught interest not only in Malaysia but also gained worldwide attention.

Besides Haniff, Malaysian Bar criminal committee co-chairman Muhammed Rafique Rashid Ali, who is another laywer, also said the prosecution's non-filing may be deemed that the prosecution may not be interested in cross-appealing against the sentence.

"If their record of appeal was filed on Sept 10, then the petition should have been filed by Sept 21. Is the prosecution still pursuing its appeal against the sentence?” Rafique asked, adding that the prosecution's silence on their petition seemed to indicate that they are not interested in pursuing the appeal in a case involving very high public interest.

On July 28, Najib became the nation's highest-ranking politician and public officer to be convicted of all seven counts of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering of RM42 million, which presiding High Court Judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali described as the worst case of abuse of position and betrayal of trust.

Surin Murugiah