PUTRAJAYA: Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil has advised lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to use courteous words in criticising High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who convicted his client, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on charges of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

Justice Abdul Karim, who is leading a three-member bench told Najib's counsel Muhammad Shafee that he could use phrases like "erred in law” and "misdirected himself" to show the weakness in Mohd Nazlan’s judgment.

"I think if we can use a better word with due respect to the learned judge...find a better adjective to describe him. Other than you say "poisoned his judgment" "hopelessly incompetent" can you find another word? Give respect to the judge.

“Use words like grossly erred, he had erred and flawed, he has misdirected himself, not just to say hopelessly incompetent," said Justice Abdul Karim, who presided over the appeal with Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

Muhammad Shafee: Can I just say the learned judge demonstrated incompetence.

Abdul Karim: Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: Clearly he demonstrated incompetence. That I could say. (Otherwise) I can't pull punches, as Yang Arif can appreciate. If these things happened, I have to say.

Abdul Karim: Just say it (respectfully)...

Muhammad Shafee:... in a bit more decorum. Alright.

At the outset Muhammad Shafee in his submissions at the hearing of Najib’s appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds,  said the trial judge was incompetence when made a ruling against his client.

"Can we say with the greatest of respect, that the learned judge was either hopelessly incompetent in this case, and that is the only explanation I can make as to how a blunder of this sort can happen. That goes to the root as to whether or not we have got a fair trial in this case.

"Now, I want to add one more ground. Namely this, that by incorporating what was not supposed to be there in the ground of judgment and in the record of proceedings, as in the finding of prima facie has got elements previously not there as though it has always been there, has the judge poisoned his ground of judgment?

"Has the poison occurred to his ground of judgment that Yang Arif (this court) would have to re-looked into the grounds fresh, all of us. That is another question I would like to pose," the lawyer said.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court had on July 28 last year sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine after finding him guilty on seven charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of position involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.

Judge Mohd Nazlan sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of CBT and each of the three counts of money laundering and 12 years' jail and a RM210 million fine, in default five years' jail, in the case of abuse of position.

The hearing of the appeal continues.