KUALA LUMPUR: Immediately after Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was found guilty on all seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd, his defence team requested for the mitigation to be heard on next Monday.
Najib’s senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah made the request to presiding High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali as he would call one or two witnesses to support the mitigation.
“It is not something new to support the mitigation factor. There will be no prejudice on the prosecution for the court to adjourn the mitigation on Monday. My client would not go anywhere as the country is still under lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
However, ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram objected the matter by saying that the mitigation needs to continue as the full judgment has already been announced.
“Your Lordship has found the accused guilty, usually stay after the conviction but here stay after the ruling (sic). In that case, obviously the prosecution is prejudiced and it was an awkward situation,” insisted Sithambaram.
Judge Mohd Nazlan had earlier found the former prime minister guilty on all seven charges of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of position, involving RM42 million in SRC International funds.
He delivered the judgement after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in proving all seven charges against Najib, 67.
Sithambaram then argued that after a conviction, a sentence should be passed on the accused.
At this juncture, Muhammad Shafee stood up and said that the court can grant the stay until the sentencing is pronounced as they (defence) need the time to do proper mitigation.
“I take mitigation proceedings as serious in all cases, not only for this case. This was not the first time the application to adjourn the mitigation was made as it was done in several cases before,” said Muhammad Shafee.
In response to Muhammad Shafee’s argument, Judge Mohd Nazlan asked the senior lawyer to produce the cases he cited, however, Muhammad Shafee said the cases were not reported.
For this, Sithambaram said the court can grant the application to adjourn the mitigation if there were special circumstances.
Judge Mohd Nazlan then adjourned the matter to 2 pm to decide on defence’s application to postpone the mitigation proceedings to next Monday.
“If the court is unconvinced, it would proceed with sentencing,” stressed the judge.
According to a source, Najib has been taken into custody at the witness room attached to the courtroom and he will remain there until the proceedings resume at 2 pm and he is not allowed to leave as he has already been convicted.
“Food for lunch will be taken to him and he is allowed to pray in the room,” said the source.