LAWYER V. Sithambaram, who is leading the prosecution in Najib Razak’s SRC International trial, said the postponement of the case is only a “minor hiccup”.
The renowned criminal lawyer, who has taken on a slew of high-profile cases in his 40-year career, acting mostly for the defence, predicted that the trial will begin soon.
“This is just a minor hiccup,” Sithambaram told The Malaysian Insight.
“It won’t be delayed too long. We will be able to get back on track soon.”
Sithambaram was hand-picked by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to lead the prosecution in Najib’s trial along with veteran lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah.
The trial was slated to begin today but the Court of Appeal yesterday granted Najib a stay pending an appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to allow Thomas’ application to withdraw a certificate to transfer the seven charges over SRC International from the Sessions Court to the high court.
Thomas argued that this was simply a delay tactic by Najib and his lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, but the bench did not find any evidence of legal tactics to delay the hearing.
Najib’s SRC International trial involves three counts of money-laundering, three of criminal breach of trust and one of abuse of power, for which he was charged on July 4 last year. He was slapped with a further three charges on January 28, also linked to SRC International.
Thomas withdrew the three new charges and asked for Najib to be given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal based on technical and procedural issues. Last Friday, Najib was charged with the same three counts in the Sessions Court where he pleaded not guilty.
With the postponement, Sithambaram will now have to wait for several weeks at least before he gets his first shot at playing prosecutor in a high-profile case.
The Malaysian Insight learnt that Sithambaram was chosen because of his legal nous in such cases and that he is also doing this pro bono.
No stranger to the limelight, Sithambaram was the lead counsel in the Koh Kim Teck murder trial in which Koh, together with his two bodyguards were charged with the murder of the businessman’s nephew, 14-year-old Jian Huang, a Chinese national in 2004. Koh was eventually acquitted.
He also was the lead counsel in the high-profile murder trial of Noritta Samsudin in the early 2000s.
A source close to Sithambaram said being on the defence in most of his cases, the lawyer will be able to anticipate from where Najib’s defence, led by Shafee, will be coming.
“He will know where the defence is coming from and will know where they are heading with their arguments,” said the source.
Deputy public prosecutors Ishak Mohd Yusoff, Budiman Lutfi Mohamed and Muhammad Izzat Fauzan are also in the team.
The prosecution submitted more than 3,000 pages of documents, including minutes of meetings of SRC International and witness statements to the defence.
Some 50 prosecution witnesses are expected to testify.