No trials in Malaysia’s courts during two-week Covid-19 shutdown, including Najib's 1MDB case

High-profile corruption cases that will be affected by this decision are former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over 1MDB, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial, and Umno treasurer Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s trial over an alleged RM2 million bribe.— Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
High-profile corruption cases that will be affected by this decision are former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over 1MDB, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial, and Umno treasurer Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s trial over an alleged RM2 million bribe.— Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — There will be no court hearings of any cases over the next two weeks during March 18 to March 31 when Malaysia temporarily shuts down non-essential services to slow the spread of Covid-19.

In a guideline issued by the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia this afternoon for all courts nationwide, the judiciary’s corporate communications confirmed that court proceedings would be suspended during this two-week period, in line with the government’s two-week movement control order announced yesterday.

“All trials/ hearings of civil cases and criminal cases throughout March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020 are postponed and the determination of new trial/ hearing dates will be notified subsequently,” the guideline read.

High-profile corruption cases that will be affected by this decision are former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial, and Umno treasurer Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s trial over an alleged RM2 million bribe.

The courts had previously fixed trial dates this month for these cases, with Najib’s 1MDB trial initially scheduled to resume March 19 (this Thursday) until March 31 (Tuesday), Zahid’s trial from March 23 to March 25, and Tengku Adnan’s trial from March 25 to March 27.

When contacted, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib told Malay Mail that the High Court hearing Najib’s 1MDB trial has confirmed that it would not be going on during the March 19 to March 31 period. 

The government’s two-week order bans public gatherings, as the Covid-19 spreads easier among crowds.

Even before this two-week order was announced, the government had previously urged for the postponement of mass gatherings, and advised Malaysians to practise social distancing or staying at least one metre apart from each other to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Guideline for civil cases 

In today’s guideline for courts nationwide, the judiciary said that the online filing of new civil cases and related court documents will continue as usual at courts that have the e-Filing system, while such documents can only be filed from April 1 onwards at courts that do not have this online filing system.

For urgent matters for civil cases at the Sessions Court, filings can be done at the nearest court within the state that has the eKehakiman system, the guideline explained.

As for the application of certificate of urgency at all levels, these would all be handled by the respective registrars and be subject to further instruction from the Chief Justice (at the Federal Court level), the Court of Appeal President (for such applications at the Court of Appeal level), judge or judicial commissioner (High Court), state court director (Sessions Court).

The case management of civil cases via the online system of eReview will continue to be carried out as usual, while case managements that are done manually or physically in courts will be postponed to new dates to be notified subsequently, the guideline said.

Guideline for criminal cases 

The case management of criminal cases before the Federal Court and Court of Appeal will be postponed to a new date to be notified subsequently, the same guideline said.

As for how criminal cases at the subordinate courts would be handled, the guideline said any applications for remand will be conducted as usual, while the investigation officer who intends to register new criminal cases is required to give advance notice to the Sessions Court judge or magistrate to allow for the court to carry out preparations.

The guideline also said the state court director is required to ensure that all bail processes can be carried out as usual for bailable offences.

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