KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — The High Court today allowed former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be excused for not being present in court this morning, and to have his trial start in the afternoon instead, as he attended a funeral this morning.
Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) funds was initially scheduled to resume this morning, but he did not attend court.
When the case came up before the High Court, Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed informed the judge of his client’s two applications.
“I have two applications to make this morning, Yang Arif. Firstly, as Yang Arif can see, my client is not in court today. So first application is to seek Yang Arif’s permission for my client’s attendance this morning to be dispensed with,” Wan Aizuddin said.
Wan Aizuddin said Najib’s former principal private secretary Tan Sri Ab Aziz Kassim died this morning and was to be buried today.
“This individual is in fact or rather was the former chief secretary to the then former deputy prime minister and prime minister, my client Datuk Seri Najib, who was informed to my client had passed away early this morning and due to the nature of the relationship, the closeness, due to the years of service, my client is seeking Yang Arif’s permission for him to not be present this morning to attend the funeral procession,” he said.
Wan Aizuddin said he was informed that the body would be cleaned at around 8.30am, with pre-burial prayers at 9.30am, followed by a burial procession together with the reciting of Yasin at 10.30am and burial procession at about 11.30am.
Wan Aizuddin said that Najib would then have to clean himself up having attended the funeral with others, before he could attend the hearing of the 1MDB trial, later also remarking that this would also be for the safety of those present in court.
“Under those circumstances can I pray for those proceedings today to start at about 230pm after lunch, so he can handle the business he needs to attend to and from then on we can proceed as usual,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib then said the prosecution had been informed about the matter and had no objection to Najib’s applications based on the reasons given, but said the prosecution would leave it to the High Court to decide the timing of when the trial would resume.
High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah then allowed the trial to resume at 2.30pm, after Wan Aizuddin confirmed that it is unlikely the trial could resume earlier due to the need for Najib to clean himself up.
Yesterday, the prosecution had informed the High Court that former 1MDB company secretary Goh Gaik Kim is expected to continue testifying today, and that the prosecution expects to next call on former 1MDB company secretary Lim Poh Seng and former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan to testify as prosecution witnesses in this trial.