Inappropriate for Federal Court to rush to defend selection of Judge Sofian in Najib’s case
7 July 2018
We refer to the statement issued yesterday by the Registrar of the Federal Court that the selection of Judge Sofian Razak to hear Najib’s criminal case, was ‘done randomly by the system’.
This statement by the Federal Court was obviously in response to widespread public criticism over the fact that Judge Sofian’s brother is an Umno Exco member in the Pahang state government, whereas Najib was until recently the President of Umno and Chairman of Barisan Nasional.
We are surprised that the Federal Court has seen fit to issue a public statement on this matter.
It is entirely inappropriate for the CJ or his Registrar to issue such a statement. (The Registrar who issued the statement is an official who works under the instructions of the CJ.)
It is up to the prosecution or defence in the Najib case to raise any complaints or make any formal application for recusal of the judge.
Why is the Federal Court or the CJ rushing to publicly defend the selection of Judge Sofian to preside over the case?
The proper thing for Judge Sofian to have done was to have himself disclosed in court his relationship to the Umno Exco, and hence withdrawn from hearing the case. Judges can do so in clear cases; there is no need to wait for a recusal application from the parties in the case.
It was thus fair comment from the public at large that Judge Sofian should not preside over Najib’s case.
There is no valid reason for the CJ and the officials of the Federal Court to display such over-sensitivity to public comment and criticism on this matter.
Lawyers for Liberty