Sri Ram’s status as prosecutor brought up on first day of 1MDB trial

Former judge Gopal Sri Ram, who is leading the prosecution team, arrives at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The defence lawyer of Najib Razak has again questioned the appointment of former judge Gopal Sri Ram to lead the prosecution team, as the former prime minister’s trial on money laundering and power abuse linked to 1MDB begins today.

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the appellate court had allowed the defence team to question Sri Ram’s appointment as deputy public prosecutor under Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“I’m not asking for an adjournment or stay. But I want to make a statement and put this to the court,” he told the High Court today.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal granted leave for judicial review for Najib to question Sri Ram’s appointment as a fiat prosecutor. The case is set for mention at the High Court on Oct 3.

In response, Sri Ram said it was still too early to discuss the matter, and that the prosecution would continue with its case.

He then proceeded to read the prosecution’s opening statement for the 1MDB trial.

Sri Ram is leading the prosecution in several other cases of corruption and money laundering involving Najib as well as the former leader’s wife Rosmah Mansor, their son Riza Aziz and their special aide Rizal Mansor.

Najib is facing 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power related to some RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds deposited into his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

Yesterday, the prosecution closed its case on Najib’s first trial, involving three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering over SRC International Sdn Bhd funds amounting to RM42 million.