Najib’s lawyer again questions ex-judge’s appointment as 1MDB prosecutor on first day of trial

Shafee and Najib had filed separate applications last December to disqualify Gopal from acting as prosecutor. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Shafee and Najib had filed separate applications last December to disqualify Gopal from acting as prosecutor. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Despite a pending appeal in court, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence team once again cast a spotlight on the prosecution’s appointment of retired judge-turned-practising-lawyer Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to lead the charge against the former prime minister accused of stealing RM2.3 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In his opening remarks, Najib’s lead lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the High Court today that the entire 1MBD trial could be nullified, restarted, or that his client could be acquitted depending on the Court of Appeal’s decision concerning Sri Ram’s appointment in place of Public Prosecutor Tommy Thomas who recused himself to prevent public perceptions of a conflict of interest in the case.

“I'm not asking for an adjournment, I'm not asking for a stay, but I want to make that statement,” Shafee said in his preamble in the courtroom of judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

In response, Sri Ram pointed out that his appointment was not merely a High Court decision but had gone through “various levels”.

The Court of Appeal had earlier this week granted permission for a judicial review challenging the legality of Sri Ram to prosecute Najib in 1MDB and related cases.

Both Najib and Shafee had filed separate applications last December to disqualify Sri Ram from acting as prosecutor, claiming it violated the Criminal Procedure Code.

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