Birthday boy Najib wins two applications in course of his SRC trial

Najib Razak, who turns 66 today, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court hearing Najib Razak’s corruption trial has ruled that the defence can cross-examine a former Ambank relationship manager on her unsworn witness statement.

“The defence is not relying on the unsigned version but using it to compare with the signed version. The court is allowing this application to show the differences,” judge Mohd Nazlan said today in ruling for the defence.

Joanna Yu Ging Ping, the 54th prosecution witness, yesterday read out a 33-paragraph statement and was later put through an hour of oral examination by ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh applied to cross-examine Yu on a previous witness statement that differed from the evidence contained in the latest statement.

Sithambaram objected on grounds that a witness could be questioned based on a sworn witness statement that was signed and tendered in court as allowed under section 402 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The prosecution had, in January, given Yu’s draft statement to the defence, and the latest version last week.

Harvinderjit said they had the right to question her on both documents as there were material differences in the contents.

Nazlan also held that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) act of stopping Najib from having access to bank account documents was not governed by any law, including the MACC Act and the Islamic Financial Services Act.

He said the MACC would not be prevented from conducting its investigations while the trial was going on and that the court would be slow to interfere in such matters.

“But to ensure the accused gets the right to a fair trial, the bank could release documents if it wishes,” he said.

The defence had complained that the MACC was blocking Najib from getting information on his closed bank accounts with Ambank.

Najib’s lead counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said this was hampering them from preparing their defence, noting that Najib was charged last year.

The lawyer said the bank was cooperative but the anti-graft body was a stumbling block.

He said the bank had been instructed by MACC not to provide any document pertaining to Najib’s accounts without its permission.

However, the bank, after clearance from the MACC, had provided some documents sought by the defence.

Sithambaram said the defence need no longer pursue that matter as it was now academic, but Shafee insisted on a declaration from the court, saying his client might need more documents in the future.

“The MACC’s act is oppressive, an abuse of power and victimising my client,” he said.

Shafee said Najib’s problem did not affect his private interest but a public right since this was a criminal trial brought by the public prosecutor.

Sithambaram replied that the defence could ask for a separate declaration in another forum and not in this criminal trial.

He also said the defence could apply for bank documents from the prosecution under Section 51A of the CPC or make an application through the judge in the on-going case.

“Even though trial has started, the matter is deemed to be under investigation until the prosecution closes it case,” Sithambaram said.

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

Najib is also accused of abusing his power as prime minister and finance minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

The Pekan MP is said to have committed the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd on Jalan Raja Chulan and at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011 and Feb 10, 2015.

The hearing before Nazlan continues.