Najib’s defence seeks to dismiss Facebook apology notice

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 2, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the High Court here yesterday that his legal team wants to strike out the notice by the prosecution compelling the former premier to apologise to the court over two Facebook postings he made about the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

Muhammad Shafee told Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that they would put in an application to strike out the notice and an affidavit in support of the application by Monday.

Earlier, Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas said the prosecution filed the notice dated last Thursday and wanted the court to fix a date for the exchange of affidavits on the matter.

While Muhammad Shafee asked that the hearing to strike out the notice be fixed on Thursday, Thomas asked for more time to reply to the affidavit for the application.

“I assure that the matter would be disposed of within 14 days but we may need time to reply to the affidavit and since all of us are busy involved in the trial, I suggest that seven days are given to reply,” the AG said.

Thomas suggested to Justice Nazlan that the case management to fix a hearing date on the matter be held on Monday.

It was reported last Friday that the prosecution had filed a formal written application wanting the former premier to apologise for his two Facebook postings made on July 15 and July 17 defending the multimillion-ringgit purchases of jewellery in Italy in August 2014 and a Chanel watch on December 22, 2014 made with his credit card.

The prosecution also wants the court to issue an order prohibiting Najib from making further postings about the case and for the existing postings be removed.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhammad Izzat Fauzan affirmed an affidavit in support of the application dated last Thursday, where he said the public prosecutor told the court about Najib’s postings in response to testimony from an earlier witness regarding the credit card transactions.

“The public prosecutor (AG) submitted that the act by Najib of commenting on the evidence is sub judice and that the respondent [Najib] can put forward his version of events in the court of law if he is called to enter his defence and decide to take the stand.

“Subsequently, the learned public prosecutor requested that the respondent to personally and unequivocally to apologise to court and secondly undertake that such conduct will not be repeated,” Muhammad Izzat added.

Thomas also told the court that on Monday he would be applying for the SRC trial to resume at 2pm after both the prosecution and defence appealed against High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah’s decision to start the Tanore phase of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial on Aug 19.

“I don’t think it is wise to fix for the trial to resume at 10am or 11am as the appellate court is in Putrajaya. If the High Court allows for the case to resume at 9am then we can persuade the Court of Appeal to hear our application first at 9am,” the AG said.

Justice Nazlan then agreed for the case to start at 2pm on Monday.