Najib asks Court of Appeal to pause his 1MDB trial, pending bid to remove judge

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has applied to the Court of Appeal to stay or temporarily pause his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial in the High Court, until his appeal to remove the trial judge is decided on.

Tomorrow morning, the Court of Appeal will be hearing Najib’s application to pause the ongoing 1MDB trial.

When contacted, Najib’s lawyer Alaistair Brandah Norman confirmed to Malay Mail that the Court of Appeal had today scheduled the hearing of the stay application to be heard tomorrow.

Alaistair confirmed that Najib had yesterday filed the application at the Court of Appeal to seek a stay of the 1MDB trial. Alaistair confirmed that Najib had on August 18 filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal against the 1MDB trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah’s dismissal of the bid to remove him from the trial.

When contacted, a member of the prosecution also confirmed to Malay Mail that the Court of Appeal will be hearing the stay application tomorrow.

On August 14, Najib applied to remove Sequerah from hearing the 1MDB trial, with the ultimate aim of getting acquitted of all the 25 charges in the 1MDB trial, or to alternatively have the trial be heard afresh from the start or be continued before a different High Court judge.

On August 18, Najib failed at the High Court to recuse and remove Sequerah from continuing to hear his 1MDB trial and failed in his ultimate goal of being acquitted. This is the High Court decision that Najib is appealing.

Sequerah had rejected Najib’s application to remove him from the 1MDB trial, saying that Najib’s application was solely based on the fact that he was working in the same medium-to-big-sized law firm Zain & Co at the same time as 1MDB’s former in-house lawyer Jasmine Loo up until 2008. 1MDB only came into existence in September 2009.

Sequerah had ruled that Najib had failed to prove that there is a real danger of bias if Sequerah were to continue hearing the 1MDB trial.

Among other things, Sequerah said he had not communicated or met with Loo since her 2008 resignation from the law firm, which was 15 years ago, and also said there is no proof of any personal or professional relationship between him and Loo.

Sequerah said he would be able to objectively evaluate the witness unbiasedly if Loo — who was a fugitive abroad for many years before her recent arrest by Malaysian authorities in Malaysia — was to be called as a witness in the 1MDB trial, and that he would not be in a conflict of interest if he continued hearing the case.

After dismissing Najib’s bid to remove him, Sequerah had on August 18 itself also rejected Najib’s application to stay or pause the 1MDB trial in the High Court as the judge ruled that there were no “special circumstances” to justify a stay.

Recently, 1MDB’s former in-house lawyer Jasmine Loo resurfaced and was arrested in Malaysia after being abroad throughout the years of the trial, with Najib’s lawyers then asking on July 26 if she would be a witness in the 1MDB trial and with Sequerah at that time disclosed that he and Loo were once partners in the same law firm many years ago.

Sequerah’s disclosure was then followed by Najib’s bid to remove him as the 1MDB trial judge.

Najib’s 1MDB trial was scheduled to resume next Monday until next Wednesday (August 28 to August 30), with Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah expected to continue cross-examining 46th prosecution witness and former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.