KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak's first-ever criminal trial involving RM42 million of a former 1MDB unit's funds was extended today into August, with the prosecution also set to call in another 40 witnesses.
High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali fixed the additional hearing dates this morning for the trial that has been going on since April 3.
“So the next dates we will be continuing are May 28, 29; (June) 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 half day, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 half day and July 1, 2, 3, July 8 to August 15 except Fridays,” the judge said when the case came up for mention today.
The June 14 and June 21 dates fall on a Friday ― a day where trial has been excluded from being heard so far to allow Najib's lawyers time to deal with their other work. This time, hearing of the trial will last only half a day because of the compulsory Friday Muslim prayers in the afternoon.
The dates starting from May 28 translates to 38 more days set aside for the former prime minister's trial.
The judge also asked the prosecution to state how many more witnesses it planned to call.
“We foresee about 40 witnesses,” ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram replied.
Sithambaram noted that what would determine the length of the trial is how long each witness would take to testify.
The trial has had 18 days of hearings, with 37 prosecution witnesses testifying so far.
During the course of the trial, some days can see a few witnesses completing their testimony in one day, while some witnesses take several days to go through the whole process of reading their lengthy witness statements and multiple documents and also cross-examination by Najib's lawyers.
The trial is currently at the prosecution stage where the prosecution has to prove a prima facie case. If the prosecution succeeds, Najib will be asked to enter his defence and he can then call in his own set of witnesses to testify.
If you missed all the news reports on the first 17 days of the trial, you can read Malay Mail's cheat sheet to get up to speed on the historic trial.
This trial that Najib is facing is in relation to seven charges of abusing his position as then prime minister, criminal breach of trust and money-laundering over RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd's funds.
This is the first of Najib's five criminal cases that has gone to trial. Trial dates for the other four cases have already been set to start from this August right up to June 2020.
The cases cannot be heard simultaneously as Najib has to be physically present in the courtroom for each of these trials.