Najib fails in bid to stay 1MDB trial pending disposal of appeal to recuse judge

PUTRAJAYA – Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has failed in his bid to stay his ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial in the High Court pending disposal of his appeal to recuse trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

This followed a decision by the Court of Appeal’s three-member panel of judges comprising Justice Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim and Datuk S.M. Komathy Suppiah in dismissing the application.

In delivering the court’s decision, Justice Hadhariah said the court agreed with deputy public prosecutor Kamal Baharin Omar that there were no special circumstances shown to the court to grant the stay of proceedings.

“We are not able to agree with the applicant’s (Najib’s) submission that the appeal would be rendered nugatory if the stay is refused. In our view, the public interest demands the case to proceed,” she said.

She said the case was already at the advanced stage with 173 days of trial and 46 witnesses had given evidence and in such circumstances, there was no compelling reason to grant the stay.

The court found no merit in the application and the application was dismissed, she added.

Earlier, Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the court that the defence was only seeking a stay of the three trial dates next week and that he would work with the judiciary to provide the necessary documents so that his client’s appeal could be heard within two weeks.

Kamal Baharin, however, countered saying there were no special circumstances to grant the stay and the trial should proceed.

Following today’s Court of Appeal’s decision, the trial at the High Court will resume as scheduled this Aug 28.

Najib filed the application to stay the trial in the Court of Appeal after his stay application was rejected by the High Court on Aug 18.

He had applied in the High Court last Aug 14 to remove Sequerah from the trial after the judge disclosed that he and former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan had been partners in a law firm.

On July 12, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail confirmed that Loo was arrested by the police on July 7 to assist in the investigation into the misappropriation of 1MDB funds.

On Aug 18, Sequerah dismissed Najib’s application to recuse him. He also rejected the former Pekan member of Parliament’s application to temporarily suspend the 1MDB trial pending an appeal.

Najib filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal on the same day against Sequerah’s dismissal of his (Najib’s) application to remove him from the trial.

Najib, 70, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3 billion belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Shafee, when met by reporters, said that the defence will file a fresh application in the Federal Court to stay the trial. — BERNAMA

TAGS: Najib, Stay, 1MDB, , Recuse, Sequerah