KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — The Court of Appeal today ordered Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor to appear in court next Monday for a hearing of her bid to nullify her bribery trial and remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor.
Datuk Hanipah Farikullah, who was chairing a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal, reportedly said the panel has decided not to issue an arrest warrant for Rosmah over her failure to attend today’s court proceedings.
“The court is using its discretion to withhold the arrest warrant. Moreover, she (Rosmah) has never been absent from the High Court proceedings,” the judge was quoted as saying by news portal FreeMalaysiaToday (FMT).
Hanipah had said the panel also noted the explanation of Rosmah’s lawyer, Datuk Jagjit Singh, that her absence was due to his oversight, and that she will be given the opportunity to appear in the Court of Appeal on Monday at 9am.
According to FMT, Sri Ram had asked the Court of Appeal to issue a warrant of arrest and to revoke Rosmah’s bail, over her failure to comply with a High Court order dated October 15.
On October 15, the High Court had allowed Rosmah’s application for her passport to be temporarily released to her from October 15 until December 6 to allow her to travel to Singapore, but laid the strict conditions for Rosmah to only leave for Singapore from October 22 and stressing that she must return to Malaysia by November 21.
Rosmah is the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and had applied to go to Singapore where her daughter Nooryana Najwa lives in order to be there for the latter’s delivery of her second child.
On November 29, Nooryana Najwa posted a photo on Facebook showing her newborn child being held by Najib with Rosmah by his side.
Today, FMT reported Rosmah’s lawyers as informing the Court of Appeal that a letter had been sent yesterday to inform that she is currently in Singapore and would be coming back to Malaysia on December 6.
But Hanipah said the Court of Appeal panel had only received this letter just minutes before the appeal proceedings started today.
Business news publication theedgemarkets.com reported Rosmah’s lawyer Jagjit as explaining the oversight and the changes in Rosmah’s travel schedule, as the newly-introduced vaccinated travel lane between Malaysia and Singapore allows for quarantine-free travel for those who are fully vaccinated if they had stayed in the country of departure for 14 straight days.
Among other things, Jagjit was reported as bearing full responsibility for the oversight in relation to Rosmah’s absence in court today and said she would be in court on December 6, and had also highlighted that she had never failed to attend proceedings at the High Court for her trial.
The financial news portal also reported Sri Ram as saying that the Court of Appeal should issue an arrest warrant and cancel Rosmah’s bail, quoting him: “We are not talking about children, we are talking about equal adults who know what their duties, liabilities and responsibilities are.”
Sri Ram was reported saying that there would be no point in making court orders if people are going to ignore such orders, stressing the importance for court orders to be complied with.
Sri Ram had also reportedly argued that the law should apply across the board to prevent the public from losing confidence, and had also argued that it should not make a difference whether the person who had disobeyed a court order was an ordinary citizen or not.
“A warrant of arrest should be issued because she has disobeyed the order, I do not see why it should make a difference that the name on the charge was Rosmah Binti Mansor,” he was quoted saying by theedgemarkets.com.
The portal noted that Hanipah had said that Rosmah should have asked for an extension of the High Court’s October 15 order —which would have required her to be back in Malaysia by November 21, and that Rosmah’s lawyer had apologised over the oversight.
After the Court of Appeal heard both sides, it had made a unanimous decision to hear the appeal on December 6 while also withholding the arrest warrant and ordering Rosmah to be in court on that day.
The two other judges on the panel today are Datuk M. Gunalan and Datuk Hashim Hamzah.
Apart from this appeal hearing, Rosmah’s trial over her alleged soliciting and receiving of millions of ringgit in bribes in relation to a RM1.25 billion project to provide electricity to rural schools in Sarawak is set to resume on December 8.