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A-G should explain why petition of appeal not filed in Najib's SRC case, says lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 24): Attorney-General (A-G) Tan Sri Idrus Harun should explain the prosecution's failure in filing its petition to appeal against the court's sentence of 12 years in jail with a RM210 million fine that was handed down in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's SRC International Sdn Bhd graft trial.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said in a statement that Idrus owes the public an explanation, and that the A-G should state whether the prosecution is still interested in appealing against the former prime minister's sentence in the “high-profile case”.

He was referring to an article by theedgemarkets.com, citing a source familiar with the matter, which reported that the prosecution in the SRC case had not filed its petition of appeal within the specified 10-day period after the record of appeal was filed on Sept 10. This means the last day it could do so was Sept 21.

Although Mohamed Haniff noted that there are steps which can be taken by the prosecution to remedy the issue, he said the important questions that need to be answered immediately by Idrus, as the whole world is watching, are:

i) Is theedgemarkets.com report obtained from a source correct and accurate? That the prosecution's petition of appeal is not filed within the stipulated time after it received the grounds of judgement from the High Court?

ii) If the answer to the above is 'yes', what are the reasons that resulted in the non-filing of this petition of appeal within the stipulated time?

iii) If the answer to the first question is 'yes', are there steps provided by the law that could be taken to rectify this and gain the court's leave (permission) to file the petition of appeal?

Mohamed Haniff said it is necessary for the A-G to answer these questions quickly. “The rakyat and the world who is watching the case closely need the answer as it is a test of the country's legal system and judiciary,” he said.

The lawyer explained that after both the defence and prosecution filed their respective notices of appeal following the High Court's verdict, it was incumbent on both of them to file the petition of appeal within the next 10 days if they intended to continue pursuing the appeal.

The prosecution's failure to file the petition, and the fact that it had not sought an extension to do so, was alarming, he said.

The defence, who filed their record of appeal on Sept 17, will see their 10-day period to file their petition of appeal lapse by Sept 28. On Tuesday, however, the defence sought an extension of time — from 10 days to 30 days from the filing of its record of appeal — to file the petition. It was understood that the team needed more time to put together the grounds of appeal for the case.

On July 28, High Court Judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali found Najib guilty on all seven counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving RM42 million of SRC funds, and sentenced him to 72 years in jail. He was also fined RM210 million.

He was given 10 years jail for each of the three CBT charges, as well as for each of the three money laundering charges. As for abuse of power, he was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million.

However, Najib would only have to spend 12 years in jail as Mohd Nazlan ordered the jail sentences to run concurrently. The judge also allowed a stay of execution of Najib's fine and jail sentences, pending an appeal for the case.

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