1MDB trial cannot go on today, as Najib and lawyers from both sides still at Federal Court

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's trial over the misappropriation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) RM2.28 billion could not go on this afternoon, as he himself and his legal team and the prosecution are still in Putrajaya for another court case being heard in the Federal Court now.

When the case came up in the High Court here this afternoon, deputy public prosecutor Najwa Bistamam informed High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah of the situation.

“I was informed the case in the Federal Court is still going on, and therefore parties cannot continue the trial today. The accused is also still in the Federal Court, therefore ask for the case this afternoon to be continued tomorrow,” she said, referring to Najib as the accused.

Earlier this morning, the Federal Court started hearing Najib's appeal against his previous failed bid to remove former judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution in his power abuse trial over the alleged tampering of the auditor-general's 1MDB audit report.

The Federal Court hearing spilled over into the afternoon, as Najib's lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was expected to present arguments in that appeal.

Najwa also asked for the 1MDB trial to be allowed to start tomorrow at around 11am or 11.30am, as she was informed that the Court of Appeal would be delivering its decision in yet another case involving the same parties.

As the Court of Appeal's delivery of decision tomorrow would be delivered at the courtroom itself in Putrajaya, Najib, his lawyers and the prosecution are expected to be present there in Putrajaya, before coming over to Kuala Lumpur for the 1MDB trial.

Najib's lawyer Tania Scivetti explained that the Court of Appeal's decision tomorrow is regarding Najib's application to obtain certain documents allegedly related to the 1MDB trial, noting: “That's why the parties are there tomorrow.”

After hearing the explanation given by both lawyers, the High Court judge said: “Alright, so resume at 11am tomorrow.”

Najib's 1MDB trial was initially expected to continue this afternoon, with Shafee expected to start cross-examining former AmBank banker Joanna Yu as the 41st prosecution witness. But the trial could not go on today.

The prosecution had on November 24 said the remaining prosecution witnesses for the 1MDB trial are Yu for her cross-examination, and those yet to be called to testify, namely former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Singapore-based former BSI Bank banker Kevin Michael Swampillai, Omar Mustapha and two investigating officers.

The 42nd prosecution witness and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah is also expected to be called in again, after the High Court decides whether an audio clip containing Najib's voice can be played to him for the voice to be identified.

The 1MDB trial is also scheduled to go on next Monday to next Thursday, and in January and February next year.