PUTRAJAYA: The federal court made a “fundamental error” in forcing Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik to stay on board as Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead attorney, even though the attorney wanted to step down due to time constraints, says Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
He said Hisyam – who represented Najib at the final appeal in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case – was “forced to remain in court” as if representing Najib, despite expressing his intention to fire himself.
That forced commitment shouldn’t have happened, Muhammad Shafee said.
He made his submissions to Najib’s review request in the SRC International case here on Monday.
Hisyam had asked for a three to four month adjournment of the case in the last appeals hearing last August, as he had only taken charge of the matter a few weeks earlier.
However, the five-judge panel, chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, flatly rejected the request.
Hisyam then declined to comment on Najib’s behalf until the federal court upheld and upheld Najib’s conviction and sentence.
“The lawyer (Hisyam) said it was not his client’s (Najib’s) fault but his fault for misjudging the timing (between taking the matter and the hearing dates). So why punish my client?” said Muhammad Shafee.
Muhammad Shafee said the Supreme Court should have allowed Hisyam to fire himself but instead forced the attorney to remain on record as lead counsel.
“This is contrary to every column of law and jurisdiction of the court,” added Muhammad Shafee.
According to Muhammad Shafee, Hisyam, who was still present during the final appeals process, did not represent Najib as a complainant.
“Hisyam’s portrayal (of Najib) was decorative at best, illusionary and that is not sanctioned by law and that is verifiable because that goes against the very root of due process,” Muhammad Shafee said.
The review request hearing will be held before a panel of five judges, chaired by Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli.
Other judges included federal judges Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Rhodzariah Bujang, Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Abu Bakar Jais.
Najib is seeking to review the Federal Court’s August 23, 2022 decision upholding the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to sentence him to 12 years in prison and a RM210 million fine in the RM42 million SRC International case.
On September 6 last year, he requested a review of the Federal Court’s decision, alleging a “miscarriage of justice” in his case.
The hearing will continue on Tuesday (February 21).