Najib’s still ‘free’ because he hasn’t exhausted all legal avenues yet, says senior lawyer

211208 TT13 - Najib Court-01

Senior lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos says people must not be too emotional and question why former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not in jail.

The Court of Appeal today unanimously upheld the High Court’s decision, which sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and a fine of RM210 million, after finding him guilty on seven counts of corruption involving RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, in July, last year.

The three-member bench – headed by Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, and comprising Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera – however, allowed Najib’s request for a stay of execution.

“The people must understand that there is nothing unusual about Najib being granted bail despite losing his appeal,” said Jahaberdeen.

“Anyone found guilty can appeal for bail, and the court can grant one. A person remains free on bail until, and unless he, or she, has exhausted all legal avenues.

“We must not lose sight of the due process, just because a VIP is involved. Do not forget that most people in court are ordinary folks. They would receive the same rights and privileges.

“We should not be, in our excitement, ask for more, in favour, or against a VIP in court.”

Jahaberdeen said emotions can sometimes get the better of us, but people needed to believe in the rule of law, without fear or favour.

“The law should not be bent, neither in favour, nor against any accused in court,” he said.

“That is important. As such, anyone found guilty has the right to bail. If we say Najib should be denied bail, that will set a bad precedent.

“There is a saying among lawyers that political cases may make bad precedents. So, you have to be careful and make sure that the rule of law is always upheld, whether it is in a political, or non-political case.”

Jahaberdeen added it was human nature to be upset if decisions did not go one’s way. He said that was because “people always never look beyond their nose”.

“Only when it happens to them, do they realise why the principles of the law must be upheld.

“Najib is free for now. If the Federal Court finds him guilty, then bail will be revoked.”

Separately, Najib’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said the defence team was confident that the Federal Court would allow an appeal to overturn the High Court decision.

He told a virtual press conference that decisions at Federal Court have a 50 per cent chance of being overturned.