Apex court rules Sri Ram can prosecute in Najib’s 1MDB trial

Senior lawyer Gopal Sri Ram.

PUTRAJAYA: A seven-member Federal Court bench today dismissed former prime minister Najib Razak’s bid to stop Gopal Sri Ram from prosecuting in the 1MDB case slated to begin on Aug 19, ruling that the senior lawyer can lead the prosecution team in any criminal case assigned to him.

In the unanimous ruling, Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said the apex court upheld the concurrent finding of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

“The appeal is devoid of merit. We dismiss the appeal,” she said in a brief oral ruling after hearing submissions.

However, the bench ordered the prosecution to produce Sri Ram’s appointment letter as senior deputy public prosecutor and to extend a copy to Najib’s lawyers.

Tengku Maimun said there was nothing to show that the letter is classified under the Official Secrets Act 1972.

She said Najib was challenging Sri Ram’s appointment, which could be distinguished from another case in which the former prime minister sought for the appointment letter of lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah to be produced.

Sri Ram and Sulaiman were appointed by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas as deputy public prosecutors in the 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd cases last year.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib told reporters today that the apex court ruling meant all obstacles barring Sri Ram from conducting criminal prosecution had been removed.

“Sri Ram can lead the prosecution team when the 1MDB trial begins on Aug 19,” he said.

Apart from 1MDB, Sri Ram has been assigned to prosecute in the International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) case involving Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

The former Federal Court judge is also assigned to prosecute Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, her son Riza Aziz and Najib’s former special officer Rizal Mansor for corruption and money laundering.

Najib had applied to disqualify Sri Ram as fiat prosecutor for the 25 charges of corruption and money laundering in the alleged transfer of 1MDB funds into his accounts.

The High Court dismissed his application in March, a decision which was upheld by the Court of Appeal.