Element of mala fide on the part of prosecution in case against Najib

Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak pleaded not guilty yesterday to three charges of laundering funds from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

When Najib’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee, sought from the prosecution case documents pursuant to Section 51(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, he was given the runaround by lead prosecutor Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria who insisted that the prosecution needed time to prepare those documents.

However, someone representing Hanafiah later passed a compact disc (CD) marked ‘A’ to team Najib before informing the team that the CD contained the documents Shafee requested.

The incident took place in a witness room where the team sat waiting to sign a bond guarantee.

THE THIRD FORCE

Former Malaysian premier Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak pleaded not guilty yesterday to three charges of laundering funds from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The pleas were recorded by the Mahkhamah Tinggi Jenayah 3 (MTJ3) at the court complex in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur after the charges were first read to him by a Sessions Court within the same complex. Najib was accused of receiving a total of RM42 million from SRC in three separate tranches between December 2014 and February 2015.

The charges were extensions to four others read out to the former premier on the 4th of July 2018. On that day, Najib pleaded not guilty to three counts of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) and one count of abuse of power relating to the same RM42 million from SRC. Yesterday’s charges were filed under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amla) 2001 on suspicion that the money constituted proceeds of illegal activity that ended in Najib’s bank accounts.

But the prosecution is not.

When Najib’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee, sought from the prosecution case documents pursuant to Section 51(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, he was given the runaround by lead prosecutor Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria who insisted that the prosecution needed time to prepare those documents. However, someone representing Hanafiah later passed a compact disc (CD) marked ‘A’ to team Najib before informing the team that the CD contained the documents Shafee had requested. The incident took place in a witness room where the team sat waiting to sign a bond guarantee.

Hanafiah is aware of the incident.

The lead prosecutor, who made his first court appearance after a three-year long hiatus, was overheard in the lobby area grumbling that the case was thrown to him despite his retirement being due next year. Perhaps that explains his reluctance to hand over hard copies of the said documents to Shafee and his team. Had he done so, both he and Shafee would have had to sign an index paper itemizing the list of documents handed over to Najib. Once such a paper is signed, there would be no way for him to withhold crucial evidence that he could later spring on Najib at the eleventh hour.

Hanafiah’s desire to weaken that defense was further made manifest when he insisted that the trial date be brought forward to November 2018. His insistence ran contrary to an agreement reached both by the defense and prosecution during a case mention on the 4th of July 2018. On that day, former lead prosecutor Tommy Thomas and Shafee agreed to hold the trial either in February or March 2019 to afford the defense time to prepare its case. Hanafiah did not appear to honour that agreement and gave no indication whatsoever when his team was prepared to hand over the crucial case documents to Najib.

The Third Force is made to understand that the fresh charges brought against the former premier were pursuant to findings by the MACC that allegedly pointed to instances of questionable transactions. However, it struck us as weird that the High Court did not slap those charges on the 4th of July 2018 and chose instead to wait more than a month to file them. A check with an MACC insider revealed that the findings were of a nature with those contained in the “Kertas Siasatan Terhadap Najib Razak” prepared by the MACC’s head, Dato’ Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, in 2015. It follows, that yesterday’s case management could have been choreographed to coincide with the “overly hyped” arrival of luxury liner Equanimity to Malaysian shores.

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