Najib’s 1MDB trial proper to start mid-August

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, May 2, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, May 2, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 ― The main 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will kick off in three months, the High Court ruled today.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah set the dates after allowing an application to vacate the dates that had been scheduled for the 1MDB trial to accommodate the continued hearing of the ongoing RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd, in which Najib is also on trial.

The 1MDB trial dates has been fixed for August 19 until 29, the entire month of September and October and November 1 until 14. There will be no hearing on Fridays.

Sequerah, who will be hearing the 1MDB case and appeared slightly irritated by the application, warned the defence and prosecution that he will not tolerate any more changes after setting the dates for the 1MDB trial.

“I don’t want to make any more accommodation and vacate the dates again.

“It makes a mockery of the practice,” he said, noting that this was the third time the court was asked to vacate the 1MDB trial dates.

Sequerah also denied Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s request for the trial to begin in mid-September due to another trial involving Samirah Muzaffar, who was charged with murdering her late husband former Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd CEO Nazrin Hassan.

Muhammad Shafee is Samirah’s defence lawyer in the case.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas who led the prosecution team in the SRC International trial said the court must give priority to the case with most public interest.

“Samirah’s case is just another murder case. I am sorry I refuse. This is (1MDB) a priority,” Sequerah said in response to Muhammad Shafee’s request.

Thomas pointed out that the prosecution did not want the SRC International trial to be left hanging and become part-heard trials.

Muhammad Shafee also said the defence team has no objection to the new trial dates but asked the court not to set hearings on Fridays so lawyers could work on other matters.

Najib is currently standing trial for seven money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges over RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.  His trial, which continues today, was originally set to run until May 10.

Sequerah had fixed hearing for the 1MDB case starting May 14 till 17, then May 28 till 31, and then again from June 10 to 14 and June 18, 20 and 21.

The High Court’s decision today means Najib’s SRC International trial will now go beyond May 10 and take over the 1MDB trial dates fixed previously.

The SRC International trial is being heard by another High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

The court then set June 21 for case management.

Prosecution sought postponement of 1MDB trial

On April 30, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed a motion to vacate the dates allotted for Najib’s 1MDB case trial until the former prime minister’s RM42 million SRC International case is settled first.

Prosecutors had in an affidavit in support of the motion, said it was best for the SRC International trial to continue without any further adjournment until its completion as it would be prejudicial to the accused’s defence to have multiple trials proceed on a part-heard basis.

Justice Mohd Nazlan had indicated he would have no objections to continue with the SRC International trial on the dates scheduled for the 1MDB trial on condition Sequerah postponed it.