KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s (pix) application to call an Australian handwriting expert to examine his signatures on several SRC International Sdn Bhd related documents to establish authenticity is just a “tactical manoeuvre”, the High Court was told today.
Ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said that the act of the applicant (Najib) in waiting until this late stage of the trial to seek verification from a document examiner clearly showed that the application was an afterthought and a tactical manoeuvre to delay proceedings and put the prosecution at a procedural disadvantage to face the defence’s case.
“If allowed, this application will cause a miscarriage of justice. Justice is not only for the defence, it is also for the prosecution, an often overlooked proposition.
“In fact, during cross-examination on 7 January, 2020, the accused himself admitted that the he had extensive discussions with his counsels on the need to engage a document examiner before the commencement of trial.
“This admission clearly negates the credibility of the applicant’s contention that the issue of the authenticity of the applicant’s signature was discovered during the prosecution’s case. This admission further proves that there is no legal validity in this application which ought to be dismissed,“ he said.
The prosecutor added that the accused’s desperate attempt to bolster the application by vehemently requiring his signatures to be examined by an expert before the applicant will acknowledge any of his signatures only served to confirm their contention that it is an afterthought and full of mala fide.
“We urge this Honourable Court not to condone such an act by the applicant. My lord, the prosecution’s case is based on direct evidence, as the accused stated that the documents were signed by himself, the accused never raised the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer that they were forgeries. The accused even did not lodge any police report over the matter,“ said Sithambaram.
However, Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh submitted that the documents’ authenticity had not been conclusively determined, and that was why the defence wanted to call an expert witness to examine them and testify in court.
He argued that the court needed to allow Dr Steven Strach to examine the disputed documents because the Australian expert only examined scanned copies of the documents given to him by the defence in December last year.
“Dr Steven came back to us with a preliminary report. He said there is limitation as he could not determine if the documents have been manipulated or not until he sees the primary documents and until he examines the documents,“ he said.
On Dec 9, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informed the court that the defence team would call a handwriting expert from Australia to study the authenticity of several documents bearing Najib’s signatures which had been tendered to the court.
Najib has been ordered to answer seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC funds, comprising three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position in relation to the funds.
Today’s proceedings ended at noon to give more time to both the prosecution and defence to further submit on the application.
The hearing before Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues tomorrow. - Bernama