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Tommy Thomas: You cannot hold the Federal Court to ransom

EXCLUSIVE | In the third part of an exclusive interview with former attorney-general Tommy Thomas speaks about the implications of the Federal Court decision on Najib Abdul Razak’s RM42 million SRC International case and the importance of judicial independence.

Malaysiakini: What is your opinion on the overall Federal Court decision and the process?

Tommy Thomas: The Federal Court had no option. You cannot hold the Federal Court to ransom or blackmail the court. I’m sorry, this is an adversarial system. I always use a sporting analogy. You come for a game of badminton in the finals, and one team does not want to play, complaining about the referee. The match is over - it is forfeited.

So Najib got a fair and unbiased trial?

Absolutely! Throughout! Of course! There is no doubt in my mind.

Then how could he go around, in the face of overwhelming evidence, saying that he is innocent…? In fact, (Najib Razak’s lawyer Muhammad) Shafee (Abdullah) addressed the Umno assembly and said the RM42 million came from Arab donors.

You have to separate the two of them. Most legal systems are more tolerant of the accused. So Jack the Ripper can go to his grave saying “I am innocent” and the law would say, “That is your view”, the court found him guilty. The court normally does not overreact to laypersons’ opinions. If they continue to think they are innocent when they are found guilty, the court does not get too excited.

But it is a totally different thing for lawyers because lawyers have a different standard. Lawyers have to, in Malaysia, comply with the Legal Profession Act, our etiquette rules, and all our professional obligations. Which is why the Malaysian Bar president said the Bar would be...

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