All eyes on another former 1MDB CEO

Testimonies from Mohd Hazem are expected to be as elaborate and shed much light on 1MDB dealings

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BERNAMA

ANOTHER former CEO of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman (picture) will be taking the stand in Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s trial today after the defence failed in its bid to drop some parts of his testimony last week.

Hurdles were finally cleared for Mohd Hazem to begin testifying in the trial after the Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court rejected an application by Najib’s defence team to have 24 out of 118 pages of the CEO’s written testimony removed, stating it was based on “hearsay”.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, however, ruled that the court is not in a position to determine whether the evidence in the witness statement contained hearsay as alleged at this juncture before hearing evidence from the prosecution.

“It is premature at this stage for the court to decide on the admissibility issue, whether to exclude the passages (in the witness statement) because the prosecution may then be deprived of the opportunity to render the passages admissible,” Sequerah said at the KL High Court last week.

The judge said certain documentary or oral evidence provided by the prosecution may at a later stage be rendered admissible due to it falling within the exception of the rule against hearsay evidence.

He said there will be prejudice against the prosecution in rendering its narrative as it unfolds, if the disputed parts of the witness statement are removed at this point.

For the defence, he said, there would not be prejudice if the whole of Mohd Hazem’s statement is heard because the defence can later cross-examine the witness over the contended parts.

With the ruling, Mohd Hazem is allowed to read his testimony in full. In a previous proceeding, lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah cited examples, such as Mohd Hazem was said as making allegations that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, told him that 1MDB was established to assist Umno in obtaining funds.

Testimonies from Mohd Hazem, the 10th prosecution witness, are expected to be as elaborate and shed much light on 1MDB dealings as how his predecessor at 1MDB, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, did throughout the latter’s 40-day court proceedings since Sept 23 last year.