No more delays: Apex court rejects Najib’s last bid to postpone 1MDB trial

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, August 13 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak exhausted today his legal options to defer his main 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial until after his ongoing SRC International case.

At the Federal Court this morning, a five-judge bench chaired by Chief Justice of Malaysia Datuk Seri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat dismissed the former prime minister’s appeal over his bid delay the 1MDB trial — also known as the “Tanore” case — scheduled to start on August 19.

In a unanimous ruling, the judges upheld the appellate court’s decision that the High Court was correct in scheduling the trial in accordance with Section 259 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

“We agree with the Court of Appeal that there was no error in its judgement.

“The learned High Court judge also did not commit any error in the exercise of his discretion.

“There is no reason for intervention by the Bench to give a direction to the High Court,” Tengku Maimun said.

Also on the bench were Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Seri David Wong Dak Wah and Federal Court judges Datuk Rohana Yusuf and Tan Sri Idrus Harun.

However, the CJ said both sides could seek directions from the High Court judge when they appear on August 19.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Attorney General Tommy Thomas arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Earlier, Attorney General Tommy Thomas also withdrew his appeal on grounds that the prosecution was at the “tail end” of its case in the SRC International trial and was confident of closing its case on the last allotted date of the trial on August 16.

He said the 1MDB trial could technically begin on August 28, precisely 14 days after the witness statements are served to the defence as required under Section 402b of the CPC.

In reading out the same judgment, Tengku Maimun said the bench consequently decided to strike out the prosecution’s appeal.

Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, argued it would impair his right to a fair trial should the 1MDB and SRC International trial run simultaneously.

“The accused has the same defence team and they will be hard pressed for time to prepare the 1MDB and SRC case at the same time.

“We can’t split ourselves and neither the accused can split himself too,” he said, adding that the right to a fair trial also meant the accused has the right to proper legal representation.

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

On August 5, the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeals brought by both the prosecution and defence to delay the 1MDB trial.

A three-judge bench chaired by Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli said High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had exercised his discretion to have the 1MDB case as scheduled.

When dismissing the prosecution’s formal bid to postpone the trial on July 18, Sequerah said in his judgment that he found insufficient grounds to justify delaying the hearings.

The High Court previously set August 19 to 29, the entirety of September and October except for Fridays, and the first two weeks of November to hear Najib’s 1MDB trial pending conclusion of his ongoing SRC International corruption trial.

Najib is currently on trial at the High Court for seven money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges over RM42 million in SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

The 57th and final prosecution witness, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Senior Assistant Commissioner Rosli Hussain is currently taking the stand in the SRC International trial.

Najib’s SRC International hearing before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes this afternoon in Kuala Lumpur.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak confers with his lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Najib Razak confers with his lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya August 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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