Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial had been adjourned to 14 May, due to the previous trial dates being taken for Najib’s RM42 million SRC International case.
Najib’s trial in the High Court started on 3 April (Wednesday) with one prosecution witness testifying so far and will resume on 15 April to 10 May. The Federal Court is set to decide on 10 April a total of four appeals on pre-trial matters, including this appeal for more documents, in Najib’s trial.
The hearing on 5 April (Friday) was before a seven-man panel chaired by Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, and composed of Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Seri David Wong Dak Wah, Tan Sri Ramly Ali, Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Tan Sri Idrus Harun and Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan.
Najib’s lawyers appealed to obtain additional documents from the prosecution to prepare for his defence. Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib informed the court that the prosecution team had given Najib’s defence team all the relevant documents for the trial.
As of now, the prosecution has already provided Najib 32 volumes of documents numbering approximately 7,000 pages, which is not legally required to provide and will not be relied on as evidence for the trial.
“We will serve the witness statements by the end of this month,” he added.
Najib had previously failed at both the High Court and Court of Appeal to obtain the additional documents from the prosecution due to the possibility of witness tampering.
Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh argued that the claim that there would be witness tampering was unrealistic and “a figment of imagination”. He also noted that there had been no complaints of witness tampering after the prosecution provided 26 witness statements to Najib since February.
Another of Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah questioned the panel on how many cases of witness tampering that they had encountered in the country. He also shared his experience representing former minister Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam in a corruption case, during which the trial was concluded faster than expected when he exchanged documents with the prosecution “because both parties knew each other’s cases”.
However, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram argued that the entire investigating papers would have to be delivered over to Najib upon court orders, but that this would cause members of the public to be reluctant to come forward as prosecution witnesses in future corruption and money-laundering cases.
In the 1MDB case, Najib had abused his position and office to receive gratification monies during his tenure as prime minister to obtain gratification monies amounting to RM2.3 billion, and 21 charges of money laundering of a similar amount between 17 Aug 2011 and 8 Feb 2012.
He was also charged with six counts of criminal breach of trust of some RM6.64 billion of government funds whereby trial will take place starting from July 8.
The lead prosecutor, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, said, that this trial would be “the first of many kleptocracy-1MDB-linked prosecutions” operating under Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution which states that “all persons are equal before the law”.
Tommy spelt out the details of the seven charges for money laundering, criminal breach of trust and bribery including how Najib had wrongfully gained RM42 million from SRC International’s funds in his bank account.
There would also be evidence shown that Najib used some of the funds to splurge on Chanel products in Honolulu and issued personal cheques for a host of other expenses, including renovation work on his homes in Jalan Langgak Duta here and in Pekan, Pahang.