High Court refuses to postpone Najib’s 1MDB trial start

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court July 18, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court July 18, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — The High Court today dismissed the prosecution’s formal bid to postpone the start of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s main 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial.

High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said in his judgment that he found insufficient grounds to justify delaying the hearings. 

“I do not find the reasons presented constitutes reasonable cause to postpone the trial, and therefore the application is dismissed.

“The dates that have been set will still apply, but parties can appeal for each of the individual dates to be rescheduled if needed,” he said.

Earlier, both Attorney General Tommy Thomas and Najib’s lead defence counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, presented their arguments for the postponement.

They had sought to delay the start of the trial until the disposal of Najib’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd trial that is ongoing.

Both Thomas and Shafee said there was an unusual time pressure in the SRC trial, with the latter saying this could hurt Najib’s right to a fair trial.

After the judge made his decision, Shafee said he would appeal the ruling if the AG agrees not to contest this.

Najib is currently being tried for seven money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges over RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

The SRC International trial is scheduled to run until August 16.

On July 8, the High Court had ruled that Najib will be tried for corruption over 1MDB on August 19, whether his ongoing SRC International trial is still continuing or has ended by then.

Last week, prosecutors had filed a notice of motion where Deputy Public Prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed in his affidavit expressed doubt over the possibility of the SRC International trial ending by its given date in August. 

He had said that it would be in the interest of all parties involved that there be no further delay for the SRC International trial, adding it would prejudicial to the defence of the accused to have multiple trials involving him proceed on a part-heard basis. 

The defence team, in their affidavits, supported the postponement of the 1MDB trial. 

The defence also pointed out how the same group of defence lawyers would be involved in both trial proceedings, where the preparation of the accused’s defence would suffer serious prejudice the lack of time. 

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