KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — Former Umno member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam is guilty of contempt of court for threatening a prosecution witness in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial involving over RM2 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) funds, the High Court decided today.
High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, who is also the judge presiding over the 1MDB trial, today reportedly decided that Lokman had committed contempt of court over his actions linked to the prosecution’s eighth witness in the 1MDB trial.
“I find the act of the respondent, accompanied with intent, to make the media statement and police report, amounted to a threat against PW8 and other potential witness in trial, giving rise to risk on the due administration of justice and amounted to contempt of court,” Sequerah was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini, referring to Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin as PW8 or the eighth prosecution witness.
Both deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam and Lokman’s defence lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed confirmed to Malay Mail that Lokman has been found guilty of contempt of court.
Wan Aizuddin said the High Court judge found that there was contempt by way of threatening the witness, which interfered with the administration of justice.
“He found that his action of lodging the police report, its contents, the press conference that he had after had the effect of threatening Datuk Amhari who was the witness in the 1MDB trial and future witnesses. Datuk Lokman’s acts were said to have a real risk of impeding the administration of justice,” Wan Aizuddin told Malay Mail.
Mustaffa said the judge had found Lokman’s act of lodging a police report against Amhari as amounting to intimidation against Amhari and future witnesses in the trial and that victimisation of witnesses is serious contempt of court.
Mustaffa told Malay Mail that the judge then sentenced Lokman to one-month imprisonment over the contempt of court offence.
Mustaffa confirmed that the court had granted a stay on the one-month sentence until the end of Lokman’s appeal, as Lokman’s lawyer had indicated that his client would be appealing.
Mustaffa said the High Court imposed a bond amount of RM3,000 with one surety.
Wan Aizuddin similarly confirmed the one-month jail sentence had been stayed pending appeal with bond of RM3,000 and one surety, further confirming that Lokman’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was the one who told the High Court of his intention to appeal to the Court of Appeal over today’s decision.
The High Court’s decision today was after a hearing on May 19 of the contempt of court case.
The prosecution had sought to have Lokman found guilty in contempt of court over his actions in September 2019 which were seen as threatening 1MDB trial witness Amhari.
On September 25, 2019, Lokman gave a video interview and lodged a police report on the same day.
The prosecution alleged that Lokman had in the September 25, 2019 video uttered words amounting to express or implied threats towards 1MDB trial witness Amhari, and that his police report on the same day against Amhari also amounted to threats.
The prosecution had claimed that Lokman’s actions were intended to intimidate Amhari, other witnesses and potential witnesses who may testify against Najib in the 1MDB trial.
Previously during the May 19 hearing, 1MDB trial lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram — who was also acting for the prosecution in the contempt case against Lokman — had argued that Lokman should be found guilty of contempt of court as he had allegedly intimidated 1MDB trial prosecution witnesses including Amhari through his September 2019 actions.
Sri Ram had also said Lokman could not rely on the right to freedom of speech as such a right does not include threatening prosecution witnesses.
Sri Ram had also argued that Lokman’s September 2019 remarks asking for Najib’s 1MDB trial to be dismissed and halted amounted to asking the court to prejudge the case without hearing the full evidence and was an interference of the administration of justice.
Lokman’s lawyer Shafee had previously on May 19 argued that there were technical defects in the contempt of court case against his client, arguing that a court document by the prosecution had failed to specifically state which particular remarks in Lokman’s police report and video interview amounted to the threat against Amhari and resulted in contempt.
Among other things, Shafee had said Lokman had denied saying anything to intimidate Amhari and had also denied having any intention to impede the course of justice, also arguing that there was no real risk of interference with the course of justice.
Najib’s 1MDB trial is scheduled to resume on August 17, with his lawyers expected to resume cross-examining the 10th prosecution witness and former 1MDB CEO, Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman.
Najib’s 1MDB trial involves 25 criminal charges — four counts of allegedly abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and 21 counts of alleged money laundering.