by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by ARIF KARTONO
FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak failed for the third time to recuse Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (picture; centre) from leading the prosecution in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trials.
In the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, the Kuala Lumpur High Court has dismissed Najib’s application to remove Sri Ram as the leading prosecutor as the applicant failed to present evidence that the former Federal Court judge was biased in conducting the trial.
Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan ruled Najib’s allegation that Sri Ram had been involved in the investigation against him as unmeritorious.
“There is no cogent evidence to support the applicant’s allegation and it remains purely hypothetical. This issue had in any event been canvassed by the applicant’s (Najib) application in the previous applications highlighted by the prosecution as respondent. It is a moot point.
“It has been deliberated and decided. The decisions held by the other courts should remain and not be regurgitated again,” the judge said yesterday.
He said Najib had, among others, relied on the communications that took place between the former Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and Sri Ram as proof of the latter’s biasness towards him.
Mohamed Zaini said the applicant’s apprehension of Sri Ram’s biasness was without basis and misplaced.
He said Sri Ram, as anybody else, is entitled to have an opinion and that could not be taken to mean that it would impinge on his duties as a senior public prosecutor.
Additionally, the judge said the applicant did not make any complaint earlier about Sri Ram’s conduct in the trial, which lent credence to the contention of the respondent that Sri Ram has been above board in his conduct as a senior public prosecutor.
Previously, lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Sri Ram could be biased in conducting the trial, particularly regarding a WhatsApp conversation between the latter and Mohamed Apandi in 2018.
In the conversation, Sri Ram persuaded Mohamed Apandi to charge Najib.
The defence applied to recuse Sri Ram on June 12 last year with support from two affidavits, of which one was filed by Najib and the other by Mohamed Apandi.
This was Najib’s third attempt to recuse Sri Ram from prosecuting in the 1MDB-linked criminal cases after meeting with two failures.
The first application was for another 1MDB case before a different judge and the other was through a civil proceeding.
In the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, Najib is charged with abusing his power as a public officer in his capacity as PM and finance minister in altering the 1MDB audit report.
Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is accused of abetting Najib in tampering with the company’s audit report, which was then tabled to the Public Accounts Committee for investigation.
Read our previous report here