Hold Najib’s criminal trial in Putrajaya, prosecutor tells judge

KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution in former prime minister Najib Razak’s criminal trial over some RM42 million transferred into his bank account from former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International today asked for the trial to be conducted at the Palace of Justice (PoJ) in Putrajaya.

Ad-hoc deputy public prosecutor Sulaiman Abdullah told High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that the venue was suitable as most of the prosecution witnesses were from Putrajaya.

“The courtrooms in the PoJ are bigger and the public will have better access to follow the trial,” he said.

Sulaiman, a lawyer appointed to lead the prosecution team in the case, said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) would be writing to Chief Judge of Malaya Zaharah Sulaiman for the change in venue.

Speaking to reporters later, he said it would be better to hold the trial there for security reasons as well as crowd control.

He said it would also be convenient as the prosecution needed to transport bundles of documents from the AGC in Putrajaya to the court.

Nazlan said the matter could be discussed during the pre-trial conference between the prosecution and defence teams on Oct 25.

On July 4, Najib was slapped with four charges: three for criminal breach of trust and one for abusing his power in the transfer of RM42 million into his bank account.

On Aug 8, he was charged with three counts of money laundering related to the same transaction, under the Anti-Money Laundering, Prevention of Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, better known as Amla.

The offences were allegedly committed between Dec 24 and 29, 2014.

Today, Najib arrived at the courtroom here about 9.05am and walked straight to the dock where he sat before proceedings started.

He did not speak to his lawyers or exchange pleasantries with them. None of his family members were present.

During case management, Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told Nazlan that some of the documents contained in a compact disc were not clear and had no pagination.

He also said the prosecution had served the documents on Najib instead of the defence team.

“Some documents were served on my client yesterday at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office when he went there to meet his wife (Rosmah Mansor),” he said.

He added that the defence wanted the documents in hard copy with pagination so that they could access the content more easily.

“Why give the documents in CD format? We are not asking for preferential treatment,” he said, adding that the defence could not go for the pre-trial conference unprepared as some of the documents on the CD could not be read.

He said the defence was even prepared to pay the cost of making copies of the documents contained on the CD.

Sulaiman said Shafee appeared to be suggesting that the prosecution had sinister motives in conducting the case.

“We are not stealing a march on the accused,” he said. “We are strictly following the law.”

He said the prosecution had been calling the defence for a pre-trial conference to thrash out the issue, but the defence had not been forthcoming.

“We don’t want them to waste valuable judicial time in making frivolous applications (to stall the trial. But they choose to take the publicity route,” he said.

Sulaiman added that the prosecution intended to expedite the case and conduct a fair trial.

Nazlan then fixed the pre-trial conference on Oct 25 and the next case management on Oct 31.

Najib’s trial has been tentatively fixed from Feb 18 next year.