Najib’s 1MDB trial put on hold

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court in Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial, which was scheduled to begin today, has postponed proceedings with the trial now tentatively fixed to begin on Aug 26.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said he would meet again with prosecution and defence lawyers on Thursday to finalise the trial dates.

In court today, he attempted to persuade the prosecution to begin proceedings through the reading of the opening statement and the calling of informal witnesses.

However, ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said the 1MDB trial could not proceed as Najib’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial is continuing today before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

“I understand that the prosecution’s last witness (investigating officer Rosli Hussain) is giving evidence, and that the defence will cross-examine him before the case is closed,” he said.

Sri Ram also said that due to administrative reasons, the prosecution only served the witness statements of 12 people last Friday, hence trial can only begin in 14 days in compliance with Section 402B of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“We are also going to serve 15 bundles of voluminous documents to the defence today,” he said.

Sequerah said he was prepared to waive the 14-day requirement, but defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the statutory requirement must be followed.

“We have to study the documents,” he said, adding that the defence would be ill-prepared at this juncture.

He suggested that the trial begin on Sept 3, as earlier suggested by Sri Ram.

However, Sri Ram said he was amenable for the 1MDB trial to begin on Aug 26 as the prosecution would have closed the SRC International trial by the end of the week.

Shafee said Sequerah could decide on the trial date on Thursday after the defence had read all 1MDB documents served on them.

The judge then fixed case management on Thursday with the trial tentatively set for Aug 26.

Sequerah had earlier fixed from today until Nov 14 for the trial proceedings.

Najib was slapped with 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power last September over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank account between February 2011 and December 2014.

He is also facing three different charges, the hearing dates for which have been fixed from Jan 13 to June 2020.

Najib’s SRC International trial was supposed to end last week but the case was adjourned to today as the former prime minister took medical leave after contracting an infection in both of his eyes.