1MDB trial postponed after defence self-quarantines over Covid-19 scare

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 12, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 12, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s much-anticipated 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption case was postponed today after his counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, and the rest of the defence team decided to go into self-quarantine, following a Covid-19 scare.

Lawyer Noor Farhah Mustafa, who represented Shafee today, informed the court that the latter’s sister-in-law had been in close contact with a positive Covid-19 patient, who is also her co-worker. 

Both work at Sirim Berhad’s head office in Shah Alam. The government agency had issued a statement last Tuesday confirming that one of its employees had contracted Covid-19 and the necessary steps had been taken to deep-clean its head office in Shah Alam.

Shafee’s sister-in-law had attended a kenduri at his residence here last Saturday, explained Farhah to High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

“The whole 1MDB defence team was asked to quarantine by a medical practitioner,’’ she said, adding that they had all interacted with Shafee following Saturday’s event.

In response, Sequerah said, under the circumstances, he had no choice but to vacate the trial today.

However, he asked Farhah to provide a letter from the Health Ministry, stating that Shafee’s sister-in-law had been properly tested for Covid-19 and another letter from health officials ordering the trial’s defence team to go into self-quarantine.

He asked the defence team to submit the documents by tomorrow (March 13), failing which the trial will commence as planned.

“Without these two letters presented to the court, I don’t see any reason why the trial should not proceed tomorrow,’’ he said, 

The trial was expected to proceed with former 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi taking the stand.

Shahrol had last testified on November 11, 2019, and had remained on the witness stand for 22 trial days.

The court is set to commence again tomorrow at 9.30am.

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