by BERNAMA / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
THE trial of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) — who is facing 25 corruption and money laundering charges involving RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds — will commence on Aug 19, as fixed earlier.
High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah made the decision after dismissing the public prosecutor’s notice of motion.
The prosecution had applied for the trial to be postponed for the fourth time, pending disposal of Najib’s SRC International Sdn Bhd case.
Sequerah had earlier set Aug 19-29; the month of September and October except for Fridays; and the first two weeks of November for Najib’s 1MDB trial.
The judge in his brief judgement yesterday said the court found no reasonable cause to postpone the trial as it is a case of public interest.
“This case should proceed without further delay, therefore, it will not constitute reasonable cause to have the 1MDB trial delayed any further.
“I do not find any reason for the adjournment. The trial dates, as fixed earlier, are maintained. So, I dismiss the motion brought by the prosecution,” he said, noting that it had been almost a year since Najib was charged in September 2018.
Nevertheless, taking into account the need for parties to be present in both trials, the judge said he will be flexible and consider subsequent applications to vacate certain dates in the 1MDB trial for the SRC trial.
The prosecution’s application was its fourth attempt to postpone the case on grounds that they needed to finish the SRC trial first before commencing with the 1MDB case.
Justice Sequerah made his ruling after hearing submissions by attorney general Tommy Thomas, who is lead prosecutor in Najib’s SRC trial, and Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
“The accused also affirmed the affidavit and they (Najib and the defence team) have no objection for postponement of the 1MDB trial,” Thomas earlier submitted.
Muhammad Shafee submitted that the SRC trial and the 1MDB trial would be severely prejudiced if both cases are to proceed concurrently.
“Unlike the prosecution team in both the SRC and 1MDB trials, the defence team consists of the same lawyers in both proceedings.
“If both trials are to proceed concurrently, it would be prejudicial for the preparation for defence and lawyers having to prepare for two separate trials simultaneously,” he said.
The public prosecutor filed the notice of motion on July 10 this year, naming Najib as the respondent.
Deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed in his affidavit said the SRC case, which began on April 3, is scheduled for hearing until Aug 16 before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
To date, 51 prosecution witnesses had testified with another 20 yet to be called, subject to any dynamic change in circumstances.
Budiman said during the SRC trial on July 3, the prosecution team informed the court of its intent to postpone the 1MDB case as the defence had no objections to it.
He said in the interest of all the parties concerned, including witnesses who had been subpoenaed, the case should be continued without any delay.
“In fact, this application will also not prejudice the accused in this case, because he still remains and will continue to be under bail,” he said.
On July 8, Sequerah rejected Thomas’ verbal request to postpone the 1MDB case scheduled for Aug 19 until the SRC case had been completed.
On April 30, the prosecution filed its first motion to postpone the 1MDB trial which had been fixed for 14 days from April 15 until May 3. The judge granted the application and rescheduled the case to May 14 until June 21.
On May 2, the prosecution sought another postponement via oral application. The court allowed the postponement and rescheduled the trial to Aug 19. — Bernama