Prosecutors fail in bid to impeach Najib as witness

The judge ruled that there were no material contradictions made by the former PM in his statements

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE prosecution yesterday failed to impeach Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak of inconsistent statements while taking the witness stand.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed the prosecutors’ bid to challenge the former prime minister’s (PM) credibility in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

The judge ruled that there were no material contradictions made by the Pekan MP in his statements.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram argued that there were serious material contradictions made by Najib in court and his statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Sithambaram said Najib admitted to the MACC that he signed certain documents during the investigation, but now questioned the authenticity of the signature and alleged his signatures could have been forged.

The former SRC International advisor emeritus claimed that he qualified the signatures then because it “looked like his signatures” before the issue of no original documents was raised in the trial.

Mohd Nazlan allowed the impeachment application, saying it was “not without merit”.

He later ruled the discrepancies between the two statements are “not irreconcilable”.

“In my view, they are not irreconcilable as to the apparent change in his (Najib) supplementary witness statement on whether he signed the exhibits (the SRC International documents) or not on the basis of his explanation.

“I find no material contradictions and there is no need to pursue the impeachment,” he said at the Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court said yesterday.

Sithambaram continued the cross-examination over SRC International documents including the approval to acquire an additional RM2 billion credit facility from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).

Najib’s signature on the documents again became a contentious issue and led to heated exchanges in the courtroom.

“I had acknowledged that I have seen the documents based on the signatures. They looked like my signatures at the time,” Najib said and Sithambaram replied: “It is your classic answer.”

Najib responded: “It is the answer. I don’t like your insinuation.”

Najib’s legal team, led by Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, demanded the signatures be verified by an expert from Australia.

The trial resumes after a long break at the end of December last year.

Najib faces seven criminal charges related to the alleged misappropriated RM42 million funds which belonged to the SRC International.

Najib made history as the first former PM of the country to take the witness stand after he was not acquitted on all seven charges linked to the former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Throughout seven days in the witness box last year, the former PM and finance minister had maintained that he was not involved in SRC International’s operational matters. He claimed political motivation behind the charges.

The case was given priority for completion over another corruption trial involving Najib and former Treasury secretary general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah on the alleged misused RM6.6 billion government funds.

Najib is also slapped with 21 counts of money laundering and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion in a separate 1MDB case.

Meanwhile, the case management on 1MDB audit tampering trial, Najib’s third trial that involves former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, is scheduled for Jan 9.