by BERNAMA/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
The High Court today once again urged the prosecution team in the alleged tampering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) final audit report case involving Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and 1MDB former chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy to expedite giving witness statements to the defence in order for the trial to proceed as scheduled.
High Court judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan ordered the prosecution to hand over all the documents needed by the defence so that the trial, originally set to start on Nov 18, will not be delayed.
“On the last case management, I have asked the prosecution to prepare the witness statement as soon as possible.
“I understand the prosecution team have other cases, but the witness statement must be prepared and I will make sure that the witness statements are ready two weeks to the trial,” he said during the case management.
Deputy Public Prosecutor, Mohammad A-Saifi Hashim had earlier informed the court that the prosecution was still in the process of preparing witness statements for the trial.
“The prosecution has handed over several documents to the defence in accordance with Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said, requesting the trial date for the case to be postponed as it overlaps with the 1MDB trial.
Justice Mohamed Zaini, however, said the trial dates (Nov 18 to 29, 2019, and Jan 13 to 17, 2020) have been set and does not overlap with other cases.
He also set Oct 16 and Nov 12 for case management.
Counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah represented Najib, 66, while Datuk N. Sivananthan acted on behalf of Arul Kanda, 43.
On Jan 4, 2019, the Sessions Court here granted the prosecution’s application for the cases to be heard together.
On Dec 12, 2018, Najib was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action against him.
He was charged, in his capacity as a public officer, which was as the Prime Minister, with using the position to obtain gratification for himself, which was to evade disciplinary, civil or criminal action against him in connection with 1MDB, by ordering alterations to the 1MDB final audit report before it was finalised and tabled to the PAC, where he directly had interest in.
The Pekan MP was accused of committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government’s Administrative Centre, the Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and Feb 26, 2016.
The charge is framed under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 which carries a maximum jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB, at the same place and time and in accordance with Section 28 (1) (c) of the MACC Act 2009 read with Section 23 (1) & 24 (1) of the same act which provides for similar punishment, if found guilty.