Trial: Najib’s lawyer expects to quiz ex-1MDB CEO for three more weeks, prosecution to call 55 more witnesses

Ida Lim
Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 30, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi is expected to be in the witness stand for another three more weeks in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s corruption and money laundering trial involving more than RM2 billion of the company’s funds, the court was told.

At the end of today’s proceedings, High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had asked Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for an estimate of how long more he would take to cross-examine Shahrol Azral.

Shafee then said: “I think it’s another three weeks, I indicated to Yang Arif last time two weeks, but I think three weeks more is required.”

Shafee today quizzed Shahrol Azral regarding one of the many phases in the 1MDB chronology of events, noting that there were three more phases to go through.

Shafee explained that the reason why he was taking a long time to cross-examine Shahrol Azral was due to the latter’s role as a former CEO of 1MDB, also indicating that the defence’s case is that the blame lies with Shahrol Azral and not anyone else.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 30, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Shahrol Azral has been testifying for around 25 days since taking the witness stand on September 23, 2019, as the ninth prosecution witness.

Throughout the trial, Shahrol Azral has repeatedly said he was not involved in any schemes on 1MDB funds or conspired with businessman Low Taek Jho to carry out such schemes, but said he had acted on Low’s advice in the belief that the latter had consulted with Najib for decisions related to 1MDB affairs.

Shafee is expected to continue to cross-examine Shahrol Azral tomorrow morning.

The trial, which had started on August 28, 2019, had been going on for around 38 days.

When asked by the judge how many more witnesses are expected to be called by the prosecution, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said that the prosecution has lined up another 55 more witnesses to be called, including about 20 formal witnesses.

Trial dates for this case have been scheduled for virtually every week from July until October.  

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