Najib fails to get witness statements in preparation of his defence

Former prime minister Najib Razak has been asked to enter his defence on all charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering in relation to the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed Najib Razak’s application that he be supplied all witness statements in preparation of his defence in the SRC International case.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali also rejected the ex-prime minister’s application to adjourn the continuation of the case, scheduled from Dec 3 to 19.

Najib was exempted from attending today’s proceeding to be in Tanjung Piai.

In his ruling, he said statements taken by the investigation officer under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act were privileged and not subject to disclosure at any stage of the trial.

“It is privileged because of public policy considerations and risk of witness tampering,” he said

Nazlan said the court must follow the decisions of the highest court in the country.

He said the application for witness statements to be supplied to him was not satisfactory because the applicant had not identified which of the witnesses’s statements he required and its relevance to evidence.

“In this context, the application appears to be a fishing expedition,” he added.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Nazlan said while he agreed with the fundamental aspects of fair trial, any further changes to the law in criminal procedure must follow superior court rulings or laws passed by the legislature.

On the request for adjournment, the judge said ample notice and reasonable time had been given to the applicant to prepare and strategise the relevant arrangement.

“In my view, the request for adjournment cannot be sustained,” he said, adding that the trial will resume on Dec 3.

Earlier, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas submitted that lawyers should not take a case if they were busy and this conduct was also against the Malaysia Bar etiquette rules.

“There are 3,000 to 4,000 criminal lawyers here,” he said, adding that he was vigorously objecting to further postponement.

Ad-hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram appeared together with Thomas while Najib was represented by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Harvinderjit Singh.

Shafee is leading the defence team in all cases where Najib is facing prosecution.

On Monday, Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on all charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), abuse of power and money laundering in relation to the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International.

Nazlan said the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the former leader, with credible evidence to prove the charges.

Najib, 66, is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

He also faces three charges of money laundering and three for CBT in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from the former 1MDB unit.

The Pekan MP was charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd on Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.