Najib’s 1MDB audit trial rescheduled as Shafee tests positive for Covid, new dates added

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — Proceedings for Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial today over the alleged tampering of the auditor-general’s audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) have been rescheduled tentatively to June 14.

Najib’s lawyer, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, confirmed that today’s hearing of an application in this case did not proceed.

“Today is taken off because Tan Sri Shafee has tested positive for Covid-19,” he told reporters following a case management before High Court deputy registrar Catherine Nicholas.

This Monday to Thursday was initially scheduled for this trial, including the hearing of the public prosecutor’s application to have former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy — who is the other accused person in this trial — be called in as a prosecution witness.

But Shafee on Monday reported a fever and sore throat, with the entire four days from Monday to Thursday vacated and replaced with today and three additional trial dates in October.

Wan Aizuddin confirmed that Shafee had received a four-day medical certificate on Monday over his illness, and that Shafee later tested positive for Covid-19.

Wan Aizuddin said High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan “wants to hear the application as soon as possible” and that the judge had asked lawyers in this trial to request for the June 14 date from another High Court where judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is hearing Najib’s other trial.

Sequerah is presiding over Najib’s separate trial involving 25 charges over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds, and which already has three weeks of trial dates scheduled this month including June 14.

“So the judge is asking for parties to ask from that court to vacate to give way for this application,” he explained.

He said the High Court today also fixed additional trial dates on July 4 and July 14.

Deputy public prosecutors Nadia Zulkefli and Hazmida Harris Lee appeared for the prosecution today.

Yesterday, another of Najib’s lawyers, Rahmat Hazlan, said Shafee tested positive for Covid-19 via the rapid test kit on Tuesday, which was confirmed via a PCR test on Thursday.

For the application to have Arul Kanda be a prosecution witness, Shafee was expected to take between 90 minutes and half a day to present Najib’s objections, while lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram was expected to take about 30 minutes to present the prosecution’s arguments in favour of Arul Kanda be called in as a prosecution witness.

In this trial, Najib is accused of having as then prime minister and then finance minister abused his position between February 22, 2016 and February 26, 2016 to receive self-gratification in the form of protection from civil or criminal action over his role in the handling of 1MDB operations, by instructing for amendments to the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB — which was already finalised and ready to be presented to the parliamentary watchdog Public Accounts Committee (PAC) — before it was finally presented to the PAC.

Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib.

Arul Kanda’s lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan did not object to this application for his client to be a prosecution witness, but had previously also argued that the prosecution should withdraw the charge against his client if he testifies and once he completes his testimony as a prosecution witness against Najib.

Arul Kanda currently is still an accused person in this trial.

Apart from the tentative date of June 14 being sought for this trial involving Najib and Arul Kanda and the two new dates of July 4 and July 14, other trial dates previously scheduled for this case are June 24, August 12, August 18, August 26, September 2, October 21, October 25, and October 28.

Najib’s separate 1MDB trial before High Court judge Sequerah has hearing dates scheduled in June, and most of the weeks during the months of August to December.

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