Najib’s case management set for Oct 31

The 7 charges facing Najib relate to 3 separate money transfers to his personal bank accounts amounting to RM42m

by MARK RAO / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

DATUK Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s alleged embezzlement of RM42 million in funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd is scheduled for further case management on Oct 31.

Presiding High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali granted the date in view of the prosecution providing a hard copy of the 51A documents to the defence within the next two weeks.

The pre-trial documents are related to the three criminal breach of trust (CBT), three money laundering and one abuse of power charges, read against the former prime minister who claimed trial to all counts.

Representing the accused during the proceedings, lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said full access to the documents is needed before pre-trial discussions can take place.

He said many of the files are inaccessible due to the electronic format provided by the prosecution to his client on Aug 8 this year.

“The reason we have not had a pre-trial is that we have not read the documents as many of the files cannot be read in the CD format,” Muhammad Shafee said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday.

He said full access is needed to identify factual legal issues, narrow down issues of contention, clarify each party’s position and assure compliance to 51A in relation to the case being tried.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah said the documents were handed to the defence in accordance with the law and in view of expediting court proceedings.

Both counsels have agreed to hold a pre-trial conference a week after the hard copy version of the documents are submitted, with the defence offering to bear the expenses for the conversion.

The seven charges facing Najib relate to three separate money transfers to his personal bank accounts amounting to RM42 million from a RM4 billion loan given to former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) unit, SRC International.

If convicted, the Pekan MP could face a maximum 20-year jail sentence under each of the CBT and abuse of power charges. The money laundering charges, on the other hand, carry a maximum jail sentence of 15 years for each charge.

Najib is also facing 21 counts of money laundering and four counts of corruption for the alleged embezzlement of RM4.3 billion and RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds respectively. These charges are scheduled for case management on Nov 16.

Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas appointed Sulaiman in his place to lead the prosecution, while retired Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram was made senior deputy public prosecutor.

Muhammad Shafee made an application to the court to have a copy of the AG’s letters for both appointments to determine if they were made lawfully.

Sulaiman requested the court to dismiss the application as the opposite counsel did not show any evidence that the appointments were done unlawfully and said his appointment was under the Official Secrets Act 1972.

“I categorically refuse to produce (these documents) not because I don’t have it, but because it is stamped an official secret and I do not intend (to breach this),” he said in court. The outcome of the application is expected to be reached during case management proceedings at 3pm on Oct 31. Gopal is also leading the prosecution team for money laundering charges leveled against Muhammad Shafee himself.

Meanwhile, Sulaiman also indicated to the court that the prosecution will be requesting that the trial be held at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya for security reasons.

Speaking to the press after the case management hearing, Muhammad Shafee said there are “very serious defects” in the charges against his client and that there is evidence that the investigations into the case are not complete.

“We are quite confident that we will be able to defend the case very effectively because they need to prove that whatever fund that was being dealt with was a subject matter of criminal proceeds.

“If you can show this, you must next show that whoever is being charged has knowledge that the money taken was proceeds of (the said) crime.

“That is for the prosecution to prove,” he said, adding that the prosecution team has not proved that in their charges against his client.