Najib’s SRC trial postponed as lawyer taken ill

Former prime minister Najib Razak.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Najib Razak’s corruption and criminal breach of trust trial was today postponed as defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh was taken ill.

Trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allowed the adjournment of what would have been the 43rd day of trial, but said the defence must be prepared tomorrow with another counsel to cross-examine former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping.

Alternatively, he said, the prosecution must be prepared with another witness to allow the trial to proceed.

He also told the defence to produce a medical certificate for Harvinderjit tomorrow.

Lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, who applied for the adjournment, told Nazlan that even lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah could not step in for Harvinderjit as he is engaged in another court.

“He (Shafee) is involved in a partly-heard case before a judge who is scheduled to retire at the end of the month,” he said.

Nazlan then asked if another senior counsel like Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin or Farhan Read, who were not in court, could cross-examine Yu, the 54th prosecution witness.

But Wan Aizuddin said only Harvinderjit and Shafee were well versed with that witness.

Nazlan also asked if the prosecution could call another witness to take the stand in the afternoon.

Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram said Harvinderjit had called him at about 6.30am to inform him that he was not well.

“Little can be done if a counsel is taken ill,” he said, adding that he has no objection to the defence’s application to postpone the trial to tomorrow.

He also said the prosecution was prepared to replace today’s vacated date to Aug 9 so that the case could finish according to schedule.

He said the prosecution had not arranged for another witness to be on stand-by as they had anticipated Yu being cross-examined the entire day.

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.

He 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.