KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — The High Court today did not impose any action in regard to complaints about Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appearance in Johor last week despite having called in sick over his swollen eyes.
High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, however, warned that misleading the court could amount to contempt of court.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms that this court will not tolerate any attempt at misleading and should the need arise the court will not hesitate to punish by contempt.
“After listening to both parties, I do not find any reason in this occasion to impose any sanction on the accused or impose any variation on bail conditions,” he said after close to 20 minutes of arguments by both sides.
Before the trial could resume today, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram had relayed the instructions given to him by the attorney general (AG) in relation to Najib’s alleged abuse of sick leave to slow down the latter’s corruption trial.
Sri Ram described Najib’s eye problems as having “miraculously” disappeared when the latter called in sick on Thursday but was allegedly in Johor from Thursday night onwards for the Tanjung Piai by-elections’ nominations.
“The medical certificate is obviously used for collateral purposes. This is not the first time this has happened. On the previous occasion, the accused produced a medical certificate and attended a meeting with Umno and PAS session in PWTC.
“There has been a public outcry on what has happened, and the public prosecutor has received a number of complaints. Police reports have in fact been lodged.
“So in our respectful submission, I think the accused using the medical certificate as abuse to obtain adjournments to prolong this trial,” he said, urging the court to impose some sanction including to impose new restrictions for Najib’s bail for this 1MDB trial to keep him in Kuala Lumpur.
“The prosecution respectfully submits there should be some sort of sanction for this utter contempt of court proceeding, and we respectfully move Your Lordship for an order that the bail conditions be varied, restricting the accused’s movement to Kuala Lumpur and that he report to the Brickfields police station — the nearest to his house — every Saturday between the hours 9am to 5pm.
“There should be some repercussions for this. An ordinary accused would not be treated this way. We have actually shown him a lot of leeway, and he is obviously abusing the leeway we are giving him,” Sri Ram said, adding that he had instructions from the AG to lodge a complaint to the Malaysian Medical Council to verify if the medical certificate was “genuine”.
“The AG said in no uncertain terms, this mocking of court with a medical certificate and heading to political activities, miraculously recovering from swollen eyes within 48 hours or less is a matter that should be met with the proper judicial response,” he said.
Shafee defends Najib
Naijb’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, however, claimed that the AG had made “insinuations” and allegations against his client without research.
Shafee argued that Najib would not have gained much advantage from the one-day medical certificate issued last Thursday as the trial proceedings for that day was only for a few hours in the afternoon.
“If Datuk Seri Najib wants to manipulate a medical leave, why steal 1.5 hours only. Why not do it only on days when we got full days,” Shafee said.
Shafee also said there was documentary proof that Najib’s convoy had actually left for Johor on Friday morning instead of Thursday night, based on their stopping at the Pagoh highway to refuel at 10am.
“My client travelled at 8.30am and he admits readily he still has at that time the swelling, but no more the irritation. It was the irritation and pain that he couldn’t handle, but the swelling was still there,” Shafee said.
Shafee added that a video clip of Najib in a mosque in Johor at close to 1pm Friday showed him being asked by a reporter about his eyes where he had said it was still swollen but no longer irritated, noting that his client was under heavy anti-allergy medications and eyedrops.
Shafee also said Najib had made commitments to visit about seven places apart from the nomination day purpose and that he would not have gone if the medical condition was a lot more serious.
Shafee also cited a Malay Mail report where Najib’s left eye was described on Friday as looking a bit swollen, and that Najib was allegedly reported as having left for Johor on Friday morning.
Shafee insisted that the complaint against Najib was “much ado about nothing” and merely to “prejudice” his client, arguing that Najib had only asked for adjournment several times for medical reasons during his days of trial in both the SRC case and the 1MDB case.
Shafee argued that the prosecution’s move to call for a court sanction at the behest of the AG was uncalled for.
Sri Ram however asserted that the AG would have his own information and that there was a public outcry over Najib’s activities in Johor after having had the trial postponed with the medical certificate.
While accepting Shafee’s arguments based on documents, Sri Ram urged the High Court to at least take note for the future.
“Because I don’t want a mockery to be made of this proceedings, people should take it seriously,” he said, noting that he had even gave way when Shafee said last week that Najib had to meet someone in the afternoon on one of the days last week.
“But what I’m saying is you should not abuse our kindness. You should not mistake kindness for meekness,” Sri Ram said.
Shafee then responded by saying that Najib had wanted to come last Thursday despite his swollen eyes, but Shafee said he had advised him not to come as Najib “looked horrible” then where even oversized glasses would still not be able to cover the swelling.
“I don’t want photographers to take pictures of him” to avoid this case being made fun of, Shafee said.
“I can assure Yang Arif that my learned client is not one of those characters who will cook up reasons to be absent,” he said.
The judge then made his decision on the matter.
Later, the judge also clarified what he had said, noting that his warning was in general terms.
“No, what I said was, in general terms this court does not hesitate to punish contempt if it transpires the court is being misled but that was not particular to your client.
“I said after listening to both parties, I don’t find any reason to impose any sanctions, which means I do not find any misleading or any form of contemptuous behaviour,” the judge said after a request from Shafee for clarification.
Najib has had his trials postponed for a total of three times including last Thursday due to his eye infections and eye allergy, while an extended lunch break was given on September 18 during the 1MDB trial to allow him to seek medical attention for his eyes.
Najib was previously reported as having remained active on social media, particularly Facebook, while he was on sick leave from court due to his eye infection.