Rosmah’s application to remove Sri Ram as her prosecutor postponed after her lawyers object to Zoom hearing

File picture shows Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 10, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
File picture shows Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 10, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — The court hearing for Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s applications to nullify her bribery trial and to remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as her prosecutor in the same case has now been postponed to June 17, which would be after the end of Malaysia’s total lockdown, lawyers confirmed.

Malaysia is under the first phase of the third movement control order (MCO 3.0) from June 1 to 14.

Previously, the High Court had scheduled June 3 for the hearing of Rosmah’s two applications in her bid to ultimately be acquitted from the corruption trial or to alternatively to remove Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in her trial.

It is understood that the two applications were initially set to proceed through an online hearing via video conferencing app Zoom this Thursday.

But the High Court had today informed the prosecution and Rosmah’s lawyers that the hearing for the two applications would be carried out in the Kuala Lumpur court complex on June 17, in line with the scheduled end of the total lockdown on June 14.

Rosmah’s lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader told Malay Mail that her legal team had disagreed with a Zoom hearing and had wanted the two applications to be heard physically in open court.

“And we requested the court to change from Zoom to open court,” he said when contacted this evenig, adding that it would be “more convenient and effective to put forward our submissions and argument” in an open court hearing.

As for the High Court’s hearing of Rosmah’s actual corruption trial, the defence stage or when Rosmah begins presenting her defence was initially scheduled to be held on June 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23 and July 12 and 15.

Akberdin confirmed that the trial dates of June 9, 10, 15 and 16 have now been vacated, but said the trial dates from June 22 onwards are so far not affected.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib confirmed that the two applications would be heard on June 17.

Ahmad Akram also confirmed that the two trial dates of June 9 and June 10 were vacated due to the total lockdown and that the trial would not go on on June 15 and June 16 due to the need for the court to decide on the two applications first.

Both the two applications and the actual trial will be heard by High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, with the prosecution previously saying that Sri Ram is expected to appear personally in court to argue against Rosmah’s application to remove him as the lead prosecutor in the trial.

The judge had previously decided he would hear both applications simultaneously and would decide on them before the next scheduled dates for Rosmah’s trial.

The judge had pointed out that there would then be an option to proceed with the trial if the two applications are dismissed, and also said that there would be no trial to proceed with if the applications are allowed.

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.

In her two applications filed on May 9, Rosmah is claiming that Sri Ram’s appointment letter to be a senior deputy public prosecutor in her case is not valid, due to issues such as it not being issued from the day she was charged but was issued midway of her trial.

Rosmah’s application to have the trial nullified also hinges on her argument that Sri Ram’s appointment is defective, and she had in that application asked for her entire trial to be declared a mistrial and for her to be acquitted of all the corruption charges.

On May 29, the Chief Registrar’s Office of the Federal Court of Malaysia announced that the chief justice had issued a directive effective from June 1 on court cases, including the directive that all hearings for civil and criminal cases that involve physical attendance at courts would be postponed, while online hearing for civil cases can continue and case management for both civil and criminal cases are to be done online.

De facto law minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan announced today that lawyers will be allowed to work during the nationwide ‘total lockdown’ from today until June 14 under certain limited circumstances, even though legal services are not listed as an essential service during this phase of the movement control order (MCO).

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