KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today filed an application to remove judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah from continuing to hear his ongoing trial in the High Court over RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) funds.
His aim is to get an acquittal if the judge is recused.
Najib's lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the application was filed this morning on his client's instructions, before the hearing started.
“This is an application for Yang Arif to recuse and disqualify yourself from any further hearing and/or making any further ruling and decision regarding the current criminal matter or the trial,” he said.
Shafee listed the three possible consequences if Sequerah allows the application to recuse himself, including the nullification of the entire 1MDB trial and for an order to discharge and acquittal of Najib.
Shafee said the other alternative would be for Sequerah to order that Najib's 1MDB trial be heard afresh before another High Court judge.
The third and last alternative is for Najib's 1MDB trial to be continued before a different High Court judge, Shafee said.
Deputy public prosecutor Kamal Baharin Omar objected to the recusal application but asked for time to prepare a response, including answering Najib's affidavit for this application.
"Our instruction that we received this morning is to object to the application," he said.
Sequerah, who is now a Court of Appeal judge continuing to hear the trial, exercised his discretion to have the trial proceed before he decides on the recusal application.
"Exercising my discretion in this matter, I'm of the view that the trial should proceed anyway this week. Because we are going to hear the recusal application sometime this week, and I will not postpone it any further. We continue so as not to waste time with the trial in the meantime," the judge said.
The judge scheduled this Thursday morning for the hearing of Najib's recusal application, after asking the prosecution when it would be able to present its arguments.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib then requested that the High Court issue a reminder to the public to not discuss the recusal application until it has been decided on, saying: "Any comments whether it is adverse to, or for, the application would amount to sub judice to this application."
Noting that the prosecution has stopped short of asking for a gag order, the judge then said: "I will make a pronouncement that members of the public should refrain from commenting on this matter until the outcome of the application. Further to that, all I can say is if there is a breach of sub judice rule, I suppose the law will take its ordinary course."
The trial then continued with the 46th prosecution witness and former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz continuing her testimony.