High Court denies prosecution’s application for ban over leaked Najib trial recording

Kenneth Tee
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 22, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The High Court denied today the prosecution’s application to prohibit court recordings of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s corruption trial proceedings from being uploaded online, after a video clip was leaked on Facebook last week.

Ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram had raised the matter and pointed out that Court Recording Transcript (CRT) footage could only be obtained by signing an undertaking not to forward the copy to other parties, nor upload it onto any medium.

“The prosecution seeks direction on the uploading of the CRT on the trial proceeding without authorisation.

“Upon signing the undertaking, it is here that both prosecution and defence, upon receiving of the CRT cannot make copies.

“We pray for a court order barring third parties from uploading the CRT without permission,” he said during the sixth day of the former prime minister’s RM42 million SRC International trial.

However, Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah disagreed and argued it was the prosecution who initially objected to the defence’s application for a gag order on proceedings.

“If they had not objected, this issue would have been taken care of from the beginning,” he said.

Muhammad Shafee said for example, the dissemination of recordings of court proceedings is a normal practice in the United Kingdom and copies of these videos could be accessed in the national archives.

Sithambaram however maintained his argument, insisting that spreading the CRT was wrong and affected the court’s integrity.

After hearing submissions from both sides for almost half an hour, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali decided to dismiss the oral application filed by the prosecution.

“A police report has been made and hence the court should not prejudge the matter as it is under investigations.

“On the matter whether this issue constitutes contempt of court is not a matter for this court to decide either,” he said.

Mohd Nazlan also reminded that any video recording of court proceedings can neither be uploaded onto any public medium nor shared.

“Any form of recording is not permitted, not only live streaming, and this includes the CRT. The CRT is supplied on the express purpose of transcribing and not to upload.

“We expect that both the defence and prosecution who are officers of the court to abide by this. The public should not be making prejudicial comments as this may constitute as contempt of court,” he said.

On Friday, a two-minute and 12-second video titled ‘The fifth day of Datuk Seri Najib’s trial’ featured a recording of Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee questioning a witness which went viral on social media.

It was learned that the recording was uploaded through the Facebook account of Najib’s former special officer Isham Jalil.

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