Najib files ex-AG’s affidavit in bid to recuse Sri Ram from 1MDB trial

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BERNAMA

FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) has filed an affidavit by former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in an attempt to remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the media yesterday about the submission after having a close door proceeding with Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya in chambers at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Muhammad Shafee said Judge Mariana has fixed July 6 for Sri Ram to reply to the affidavit and the merit of the judicial review to recuse Sri Ram from the 1MDB case will be heard on July 13.

In the affidavit, Mohamed Apandi alleged Sri Ram has a “clear mission of bias” against the former PM.

Mohamed Apandi had earlier said in a Facebook posting that Sri Ram, under the instruction of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had coaxed him into arresting Najib for 1MDB wrongdoings.

The incident was said to have taken place in January 2018 ahead of the 14th General Election, which saw Najib’s then-ruling coalition party Barisan Nasional defeated by Dr Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan.

At the height of Najib’s corruption scandals, Mohamed Apandi absolved the former PM of any wrongdoings related to SRC International Sdn Bhd and 1MDB in a press conference on Jan 26, 2016.

Najib is challenging the appointment of Sri Ram, a former Federal Court judge, as the senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) under  Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code as he claimed a conflict of interest exists.

In the 1MDB case, Najib is facing 25 charges — 21 counts of money laundering involving RM4.3 billion (received and transferred) and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion linked to the state wealth funds, which were deposited into his accounts.

Najib had also filed an application to remove Sri Ram from the prosecution in the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, which he has been charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him.

Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy has been charged with abetting Najib in making those amendments to protect the former PM from being subjected to action.

Besides Najib’s cases, Muhammad Shafee also filed a similar judicial review to disqualify Sri Ram from prosecuting his own RM9.5 million money-laundering trial, which has yet to begin.