The High Court heard today that no courts have found former Federal Court judge, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (picture) guilty of prosecutorial misconduct for him to be disqualified from conducting Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report tampering trial.
Deputy public prosecutor, Ahmad Akram Gharib stated this during the hearing of the application by the Pekan MP to disqualify Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in Najib’s on-going trial over alleged tampering of the 1MDB report before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.
“That should be the threshold in the application right now which is whether he (Sri Ram) had committed prosecutorial misconduct, to which my answer is that, he had not. The evidence he presented in all the trials that he handled as a representative of the prosecution was relevant and admissible,” he said.
Ahmad Akram said the point of bias raised in the application had also been adjudicated, thus making it res judicata (a matter decided).
Elaborating the point of bias, he referred to a WhatsApp conversation between Sri Ram and former Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in 2018, which the applicant (Najib) claimed it indicated bias, in seeking Mohamed Apandi to charge him.
“It was a conversation between two buddies. We can see from the tone of the whole conversation. He (Mohamed Apandi) started his message to Sri Ram with ‘bro’. From there, the conversation went on,” said Ahmad Akram.
He further said that the applicant had also submitted in the written submission that Sri Ram was involved in the 1MDB-related investigations that caused him to pre-judge the culpability of the applicant.
“His power to supervise investigations conducted by the investigating officer (IO) in his capacity as a senior deputy public prosecutor cannot be misconstrued as having taken over the investigation itself.
“The applicant has failed to show any evidence that Sri Ram was indeed involved in the investigations against him. As such, the allegation that Sri Ram had taken over the investigations is without basis,” said Ahmad Akram.
Najib’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah responded that the present disqualification bid did not seek to nullify the whole (1MDB audit) trial that has proceeded so far, but merely to see the proceeding being conducted without bias.
“The disqualification we seek here is not punishment of anybody or Sri Ram, but to meet substantive fear of bias, on the matter of predetermination of guilt of Najib by Sri Ram.
“It is protection for parties and the public, as well as for the wider interest of justice,” said Muhammad Shafee.
After hearing submissions from both parties, Justice Mohamed Zaini fixed Feb 15 for the decision.
This was the third attempt by Najib to recuse Sri Ram from prosecuting in the 1MDB-linked criminal cases. One application was filed in another 1MDB case before a different judge and the second was through a civil proceeding.
On June 12, last year, Najib filed an application to recuse Sri Ram, supported by two affidavits, one filed by Najib and the other by Mohamed Apandi.
Najib, 67, and former 1MDB chief executive officer, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, 45, are on trial over 1MDB audit tampering charges.
The Pekan MP is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.