Thursday, March 3, 2016

Najib not appealing to strike out Harakahdaily’s defence in defamation suit, says lawyer

Datuk Seri Najib Razak will not appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling that dismissed his attempt to strike out Harakahdaily's defence in a defamation suit, his lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam says. Hafarizam said he only obtained instructions from the prime minister to amend his statement of claim, in his defamation suit against the PAS organ. "Confirm not appealing to the Federal Court," the lawyer told The Malaysian Insider through WhatsApp. Today is the deadline for the prime minister to file a leave application in the apex court to challenge the Court of Appeal decision made on February 5. A three-man bench chaired by Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh said Najib's appeal to strike out the defence of qualified privilege and fair comment was not sustainable. Zawawi said the issue of whether both the defence was available to Harakahdaily should be heard and determined after a full trial. On August 6 last year, High Court judge Hue Siew Kheng dismissed Najib's application to strike out Harakahdaily's defence. In February, Hafarizam had said that Najib would include statements by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in his suit against Harakahdaily. He said Najib had been cleared by both and there was no criminal wrongdoing concerning state-owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the RM2.6 billion donation from the Saudi royal family. The High Court has fixed trial for five days from March 16 and Najib is scheduled to take the stand as the first witness in his suit. Lawyer Faiz Fadzil, appearing for Harakahdaily's managing director Rosli Yaakob, said the defendants had lined up eight witnesses, including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former New Straits Times Press group editor-in-chief Datuk A. Kadir Jasin. The other defendant is Harakahdaily portal chief editor Taufek Yahya, who is represented by Mohamed Hanipa Maidin. Meanwhile, lawyer S.N. Nair said it was "highly unlikely" that the trial would begin as scheduled following an application by Najib to make amendments. "The defendants too need time to reply. Najib may also want to counter the reply," he said, adding that trial could only commence in the middle of the year. He said parties could also go for a court mediation or on their accord settle the matter out of court. Najib is suing Harakahdaily over an article quoting a New York Times report on businessman Jho Low and Najib's step son Riza Aziz. He filed the suit against Taufek and Rosli over an article by Rosli on February 19 last year titled "Dana 1MDB biayai syarikat filem Riza Aziz? (Bhg 2)" (1MDB funds used to pay for Riza Aziz's film? Part 2). In his statement of claim, Najib said the article contained words, which implied that he had misused 1MDB funds. Najib said the publication of the article had damaged his reputation and caused him to be condemned in social media and mass media. He also said Taufek failed to practise responsible journalism by not verifying the authenticity of the article before publishing it. – March 4, 2016]]>

No comments:

Post a Comment