Rosmah wants to be acquitted in bribery trial, asks courts again to remove Sri Ram as prosecutor

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is pictured at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya April 8, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is pictured at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya April 8, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor has filed two new applications in High Court, as part of her bid to be acquitted in her ongoing corruption trial involving alleged soliciting and receiving of millions of ringgit in bribes.

Rosmah’s lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader confirmed to Malay Mail that two applications had been filed, with one application seeking to nullify Rosmah’s entire trial and another application seeking once again to remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor of her corruption case.

Based on documents sighted by Malay Mail, the two applications were filed at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The two new applications come just about a month before Rosmah and her lawyers would have to present her defence in court.

On February 18, the High Court had ruled that the prosecution had successfully proven a prima facie case against Rosmah by producing credible evidence to prove every element of the three bribery charges which would warrant a conviction if unrebutted.

The High Court had on February 18 ordered Rosmah to enter her defence to answer these charges, and Rosmah had at that time said she would defend herself by giving sworn evidence from the witness stand where she will be subjected to cross-examination.

The High Court had previously fixed June 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23 and July 12 and 15 for the hearing for the defence stage of Rosmah’s trial, with Rosmah expected to testify in her own defence.

In the trial, Rosmah, who is the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is accused of soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe and of receiving bribes totalling RM6.5 million in exchange for helping Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to secure a contract worth RM1.25 billion from the Education Ministry through direct negotiations.

Rosmah was charged on November 15, 2018 with having asked for an RM187.5 million bribe or 15 per cent of the contract’s value from the company Jepak Holdings managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin, and having allegedly received an RM1.5 million bribe from Saidi.

She was charged on April 10, 2019 with receiving a RM5 million bribe in cash from Saidi via her former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor.

Her trial has been dubbed the “solar” trial, as the contract was for a project involving a solar photovoltaic hybrid system and the operation and maintenance of generators to supply electricity to 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

What Rosmah is applying for and why

In the first application where she is seeking for the entire corruption trial to be declared null and void, Rosmah is seeking for eight specific court orders.

These eight court orders that she is seeking include a declaration that her entire corruption trial in the solar case — since it started from November 15, 2018 up until the closing of the prosecution’s case — is null and void and a mistrial.

Rosmah also wants the court to declare that she does not need to defend herself as an accused person in the solar trial as it is null and void and a mistrial.

She also asked the court to make an order to declare that she be acquitted and discharged from all three corruption charges in the solar case.

Other court orders that Rosmah sought are for a declaration that a July 8, 2020 letter appointing Sri Ram as senior deputy public prosecutor for her solar case is allegedly illegal, irregular and defective, and for a declaration that the appointment cannot take effect retrospectively as it would prejudice her rights under the law.

She asked the court to declare that Sri Ram’s appointment letter signed by Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun on July 8, 2020 is wrong in law as it should have been signed by former attorney-general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas on or before November 15, 2018, which was when she was first charged in the solar case.

She also asked for a declaration that Sri Ram’s appointment does not apply to her solar trial as the appointment letter’s title was said to indicate Sri Ram’s appointment to lead the prosecution of cases related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and a declaration that Sri Ram’s handling of the solar case was allegedly an abuse of court process and contempt of court.

Among other things, Rosmah in court papers argued that it was illegal to formally appoint Sri Ram as a senior deputy public prosecutor midway into her solar trial, also claiming that her trial had allegedly been “tainted with incurable and fatal irregularities” as Sri Ram had played an active role in prosecuting the solar trial since it started, including during the examination and cross-examination of the 23 prosecution witnesses over around 34 days of trial.

She also claimed that the solar trial was invalid from the beginning as it was allegedly a mistrial.   

Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court  February 10, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 10, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

As for the other application filed yesterday by Rosmah to disqualify Sri Ram from prosecuting her solar trial, she had asked for seven specific court orders, including five of the same court orders she sought for in relation to Sri Ram’s appointment letter and to declare his handling of her solar trial was an alleged abuse of court process.

Apart from the five identical court orders that she was seeking, the two other court orders that Rosmah is asking for the court to grant is a declaration for Sri Ram to be disqualified and prevented or stopped or be terminated as a senior deputy public prosecutor for her solar trial where he is leading the prosecution, and a declaration for Sri Ram to be blocked from continuing to be part of the prosecution team in any capacity in her solar trial.

In both the applications, Rosmah has also asked the court to suspend the solar trial until the court hears and decides on the two applications to nullify the trial and to remove Sri Ram as her prosecutor in the trial.

Both applications will come up for case management on May 11 before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

This is not the first time that Rosmah had sought to remove Sri Ram — who is a former Federal Court judge and is a private lawyer — as the lead prosecutor of her corruption trial.

She had previously on July 8, 2020 filed an application to ask the courts to order the prosecution to produce Sri Ram’s appointment letter as a senior deputy public prosecutor and as the lead prosecutor in her solar trial, and for the courts to order that Sri Ram be disqualified from continuing to lead the prosecution team against her in the solar trial if the appointment letter was not produced.

The High Court on August 19, 2020 had rejected that application, with Rosmah then appealing to the Court of Appeal.

At the Court of Appeal hearing on April 8, Rosmah’s appeal was allowed as the prosecution agreed to show Sri Ram’s appointment letter to her lawyers. The court had at that time noted that the letter was not signed by the then attorney general Thomas and was not signed before or by the date that Rosmah was charged.

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