KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — The trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds today has been suspended pending the recovery of his lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah from illness.

Najib's other lawyer Alaistair Brandah Norman told the High Court this afternoon that Shafee is on a four-day medical leave.

"Unfortunately, and with regret, we have to inform Your Lordship that senior counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has taken ill this morning and has taken few days of leave for him to recover from his condition. I present this court with this medical leave for the following days, 6th being this day all the way until 9th October.

"As Yang Arif can see, the medical certificate is bereft of any particulars but I would like to inform this court that Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has been taken ill. He is down with a fever and a severe throat infection which disables him from addressing this court for purposes of cross-examination of witnesses that are to be called today, and this is also the case with the Court of Appeal matter that was initially fixed for today this morning," he said.


Shafee was initially expected this afternoon to cross-examine AmBank's former group managing director Cheah Tek Kuang, who is the 39th prosecution witness in this trial. But this did not happen as Shafee is unwell.

Earlier today, Shafee did not appear at a Court of Appeal hearing as he was unwell, which resulted in his five clients --- including the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) --- being ordered by the court to pay RM5,000 in costs to the respondent Public Bank Bhd for the latest delay in that case.

Financial news portal The Edge reported Public Bank's lawyer Yoong Sin Min as having asked for the costs as it was the seventh postponement since Shafee's clients filed the appeal in 2019, with Yoong also noting that it was the second time Shafee had asked for postponement for personal reasons (having to be in US previously and being unwell today).


The four-day medical certificate for Shafee was issued today by a consultant ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist from KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital.

The 1MDB trial had already been scheduled to take place from this Monday to today, and from next Tuesday to next Thursday (October 11 to October 13).

Alaistair today informed the High Court that there were overlaps with the 1MDB trial dates and the dates for two other court cases on October 11 and October 12.

Alaistair said that Shafee was required to attend the hearing at another High Court in Kuala Lumpur before judicial commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid of an appeal which arose from a case which had started in 1999, noting that Shafee would not be able to attend the 1MDB trial in the morning as he will be presenting arguments as the lawyer on six substantive grounds in that case.

“He has six substantive grounds to address, and this might spill over to the afternoon session on that day,” Alaistair said, suggesting that a case management be held for the 1MDB trial in the afternoon of October 11 and for the trial to then proceed with Cheah’s cross-examination if Shafee is available by then.

As for October 12, Alaistair noted that High Court judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md. Shahid is scheduled to hear Najib’s application for leave for judicial review at 9am, saying: “That unfortunately puts us in a precarious position with regards to the continuation of our trial and I believe that will take up until about an hour, so probably around 10.30am we will be done with that.”

The October 12 hearing will determine if the High Court will proceed to hear the currently imprisoned Najib’s lawsuit — which was filed yesterday — against the government, the home minister and commissioner-general of prison in his bid to be allowed to attend Parliament as the Pekan MP.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on October 6, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on October 6, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam then said the prosecution has no objection to Shafee’s medical certificate, saying: “In any event, we want Tan Sri Shafee to be in full force and in full form to cross-examine our witness.”

As for Najib’s lawyers’ notification regarding the October 11 and October 12 hearing dates, Mustaffa said the prosecution’s position is that the 1MDB trial should proceed.

Mustaffa however said that the prosecution would like to have the pending and existing prosecution witnesses complete their testimony first, before it calls new witnesses.

But High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah directed for the 1MDB trial to proceed on October 11 and October 12 first by calling in new prosecution witnesses and to reserve the cross-examination of the existing witnesses to a later time when Shafee is available to question them.

“Call new witness, reserve the cross-examination and we carry on. I know spillover but what to do, Tan Sri Shafee is before these two courts,” he said, noting that he appreciates that Shafee has other commitments but pointed out that the 1MDB trial “is also being delayed for so long”.

The judge directed the prosecution to not only make available new prosecution witnesses next week, but to also prepare the witnesses who have to be cross-examined by Shafee to be on standby.

“New witness, make him available on Tuesday. And also bring the witness due to be cross-examined by Tan Sri in the legitimate expectation that will be able to take place sometime in the afternoon on Tuesday and same for Wednesday. So we take the same position, get the new witness available for the continued flow of the trial and those witnesses who have not been cross-examined to be made available also, so Tan Sri can conduct cross-examination sometime in the afternoon or late morning or whenever it is he is finished with the other side,” he said.

Noting that this court cannot wait for other cases as it also has a commitment to finish the 1MDB trial, the judge then said today’s hearing for the 1MDB trial is vacated due to Shafee not feeling well.

Najib, who was seen wearing a dark blue suit with a dark blue tie, attended the court proceedings for the 1MDB case today.

Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and his daughter Nooryana Najwa were also present in the courtroom.

His 1MDB trial is scheduled to resume on October 11.