KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has dismissed an application by Najib Razak for a gag order on the media, prohibiting it from discussing the merits of the criminal cases against him.
In his decision Friday, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said the application was unsustainable as there are existing laws available.
"Those who overstep (in reporting) risk action being taken – such as contempt of court – and these remedies are readily available," he said.
The judge, in his assessment, said that the applicant had fallen short of establishing his case.
"I find the application unsustainable. I dismiss this notice of motion," he said.
Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informed the court that the defence would be filing an appeal on the High Court's dismissal on Monday (Aug 13).
The defence and prosecution took an entire day in court for submissions over the issue.
Earlier, Muhammad Shafee submitted that the media furore surrounding his client's alleged criminal wrongdoings and the resulting public backlash had presupposed the guilt of his client.
"It is not a dramatic observation to say that the public sentiment against the applicant is prejudiced to such an extent that nothing short of a conviction upon all charges would qualify as justice in the eyes of the public," he said, adding that the prosecution is a result of political will made manifest.
Muhammad Shafee claimed that the present administration – namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Guan Eng and Tony Pua – have weighed in on the case and continually "supported the public's call for blood".
On July 4, High Court judge Justice Mohd Sofian Abd Razak, who earlier presided the case, granted an interim gag order.
After a string of criminal charges last month, Najib on Wednesday (Aug 8) was slapped with another three counts of money laundering amounting to RM42mil linked to SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
On July 4, Najib claimed trial to a charge of using his positions as the prime minister and finance minister to receive a RM42mil gratification when he was involved in the government's decision in providing a guarantee for a RM4bil loan from the Retirement Fund Inc to SRC International.
He also claimed trial to three counts of criminal breach of trust under Section 409 of the Penal Code.
The High Court also fixed Feb 12 to Feb 28 and March 4 to March 29, 2019 for Najib's trial for criminal breach of trust, power abuse, and money-laundering cases.