KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — The appointment of former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as a senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad-linked cases was to get Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak charged and convicted, claimed lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
He said this was because Sri Ram, as an appointed DPP, has decided what evidence and documents that need to be produced in court.
“It is not important for Sri Ram to know the source of Najib’s monies either in SRC International Sdn Bhd and 1MDB case. What was important to him was to charge Najib,” he said in his submission in the former prime minister’s bid to disqualify Sri Ram in his 1MDB-linked cases before High Court Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya.
“The appointment of Sri Ram was particularly navigated with the purpose to get Najib charged and convicted,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Najib’s other counsel, Harvinderjit Singh argued that the Public Prosecutor (Attorney-General) did not have the power to appoint a lawyer (Sri Ram) as a part-time DPP and a practising lawyer at the same time under Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“The exercise of power under Section 376 is wrong. It’s unreasonable, irrational, and considerably improper,” Harvinderjit submitted.
He added that Sri Ram was appointed to fulfil the promises of Pakatan Harapan government by referring to a series of WhatsApp conversations between Sri Ram and the former AG Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali on May 12, 2018, three days after the 14th General Elections (GE-14).
“Sri Ram had advised Mohamed Apandi to charge Najib. In that message, Sri Ram had already determined Najib as a criminal despite no Investigation Paper (IP) was opened at the material of time. He has already pre-determined the criminality. What is worse, he already determined that Najib is going to face the music,” he said adding that the appointment of Sri Ram was a mala fide (bad faith) and irrational.
Senior Federal Counsel (SFC) Shamsul Bolhassan who represented the AG/Public Prosecutor, Government of Malaysia and Sri Ram as respondents, objecting the matter by saying that the appointment of Sri Ram was in accordance with the law.
“It is respectfully submitted that the language of Section 376 (3) (of CPC) is broad and permissive of the appointment of Sri Ram as a senior DPP. Section 376(3) does not expressly limit the potential senior DPP from only among the Legal Officers serving under the Judicial and Legal Service,” he said.
Shamsul added that the government, like any private party, can choose and appoint or authorise any advocate to appear on their behalf in any court of law.
“It is respectfully submitted that it is a sheer intellectual waste to engage in hair-splitting argument on the legality of Sri Ram appointment under Section 376(3) CPC,” he said.
After hearing arguments from both parties Justice Mariana fixed July 29 for further submissions on Najib and Muhammad Shafee applications for a judicial review to challenge the Attorney-General’s decision to appoint Sri Ram as a deputy public prosecutor under Section 376 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In the applications filed in December 2018, besides acting as Najib’s counsel, Muhammad Shafee has also filed for the judicial review as he too is seeking to recuse Sri Ram from his RM9.5 million money laundering trial, which has yet to commence.
They are seeking a court order to revoke Sri Ram’s appointment or recuse him, saying that his letter of appointment is invalid and a declaration that there is a conflict of interest in Sri Ram’s appointment and request for an order to prohibit him from leading the prosecution team in all of their cases, including on corruption, abuse of power and money laundering.