D-day for some high-profile cases in July

Since nation reopened with the easing of MCO, courts resume a slate of landmark proceedings involving high-profile parties this month

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BERNAMA

THERE will be a slate of landmark proceedings involving high-profile parties in the courts this month which will set a precedent on how future cases are treated.

Since the country reopened with the easing of the Movement Control Order (MCO), Malaysian courts have resumed the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) corruption proceedings and other related cases linked to the former sovereign wealth fund.

The nation will have to wait until July 28 for the Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court’s verdict in former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd case.

The closing submissions by both prosecution and defence had completed in early June after a course of 96 days of hearing for 14 months since April 3 last year.

Najib pleaded not guilty to seven charges; three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position to the SRC funds totalling RM42 million that allegedly entered his accounts.

He is facing a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and fine upon conviction.

History was made when the former PM was the first to face a criminal court for corruption allegations.

Najib’s fate now lies in the hands of Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, based on facts and testimonies heard from 77 witnesses in total.

Both prosecution and defence have expressed confidence.

1MDB Trial

The trial of 1MDB has been set to resume on July 15 after it was adjourned last Wednesday to make way for Najib to attend the Chini by-election campaign and also to speak at Parliament when the session begins on July 13.

High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed a provisional delay until July 17, if Najib still has to be at the parliamentary sitting.

Najib is facing 25 charges — 21 counts of money laundering involving RM4.3 billion and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion linked to 1MDB’s funds which were deposited into his accounts.

The former PM had recently filed an affidavit by former Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in an attempt to remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the media recently about the submission after having a closed door proceeding with Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya in chambers at the KL 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 that 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.

IRB Versus Nooryana Najwa Trial

The High Court fixed July 27 to hear the suit filed by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) against Najib’s daughter, Nooryana Najwa Mohd Najib, asking her to pay RM10.3 million in unpaid income tax from 2011 to 2017.

On July 24, 2019, the government as the plaintiff filed a writ of summons and statement of claim through the IRB, naming Nooryana Najwa, 31, as the defendant.

According to the statement of claim, the plaintiff alleged that Nooryana Najwa had failed to submit the individual income tax return forms to the IRB, under Section 77 of the Income Tax Act 1967 for the years of assessment from 2011 to 2017.

Mkini Contempt Trial

In one of the landmark cases this year, Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, the company that controls news portal Malaysiakini, and its chief editor Steven Gan have failed in their bid to set aside contempt of court proceedings at the Federal Court over “impugned” readers’ comments on its website.

A seven-member panel of the Federal Court last week unanimously dismissed the application by the respondents to set aside a Federal Court’s ruling that granted AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun leave to initiate contempt proceedings against the news outlet.

The apex court fixed July 13 for hearing of the case merits.

Morais’ Murder Trial

Meanwhile, the KL High Court is scheduled to deliver on July 10 its verdict on pathologist Colonel Dr R Kunaseegaran and five others who have been charged with the murder of deputy public prosecutor Datuk Anthony Kevin Morais five years ago.

Kunaseegaran’s lawyer Datuk N Sivananthan told the court that there is no connection between his client and the other five accused of the murder.

Kunaseegaran was initially charged with abetting the five men in committing the offence at the same place, date and time, but on May 15, 2017, the charge was amended to having a common intention with the five men in the murder of Morais.