KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — The hearing for Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s application to recuse the High Court judge presiding in her RM7 million money laundering hit a snag today after her lead counsel tested positive for Covid-19.
Just before hearing proper started, Rosmah’s other lawyer Azrul Zulkifli Stork informed High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that his client has also been flagged as a Covid-19 close contact on MySejahtera and subsequently placed under home quarantine.
Three of Rosmah’s other lawyers — Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, Mohamed Reza Rahim and Rajivan Nambiar — were also identified as Covid-19 close contacts.
Geethan tested positive on January 17.
Azrul asked the judge to vacate today’s hearing, seeing as both Rosmah and her lead counsel Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent have been put under Home Surveillance Order (HSO), which will expire tomorrow and January 26 respectively.
This is Rosmah’s second time being flagged as either a close or casual contact with a Covid-19 positive individual.
She was similarly flagged last December 8, during her solar project corruption trial.
Justice Mohamed Zaini asked Azrul for the identities of other people who had been in close contact with Rosmah and the affected lawyers, saying it was not explicitly stated in the documents submitted to court earlier.
Azrul said he was not given the information, but could get them from the lawyers under quarantine if the court took a short break.
The judge told Azrul that such details should have been made available, but left the matter at that.
Deputy public prosecutor Poh Yin Tinn said the prosecution is prepared to proceed with the application hearing on the trial judge’s recusal and stay until the disposal of her ongoing appeal hearing at the Court of Appeal.
According to court documents, Rosmah had claimed that there was a real danger of bias if the High Court judge presided over her money laundering case since he is also presiding over her ongoing solar project case.
Azrul also said the court papers to remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor could not be filed earlier as the defence lawyers did not have access to Rosmah to obtain her affidavit since she was ordered to undergo home quarantine.
“We will file it by tomorrow,” Azrul said.
At the last hearing on January 10, Mohamed Zaini had listed the application to seek Sri Ram’s disqualification as the item on the agenda today.
If that was dismissed, he is to proceed to hear his (Zaini’s) recusal application, and if that is also disallowed, he will hear the stay application.
However, Mohamed Zaini adjourned today’s hearing to February 3. He also reminded the lawyers in court that he will not tolerate future adjournments.
Rosmah is facing 12 money laundering charges involving RM7,097,750 and five counts of failing to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board.
Under the first eight charges, she is accused of being involved in money laundering by directly engaging in a transaction involving proceeds of unlawful activities amounting to RM1.1 million, which was deposited into her account.
For the ninth to the 12th charges, Rosmah is alleged to have directly engaged in 227 transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activities totalling RM6 million that was deposited into the same account.
On the 13th to 17th counts, Rosmah is accused of engaging in money laundering by failing to file a return on the sum that was deposited into her account, as required under the Income Tax Act.