KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution is contemplating contempt proceedings against Najib Razak for allegedly making disparaging remarks in an interview with foreign media about his ongoing 1MBD trial.
Ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram informed trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah he was raising a matter of grave importance after Najib allegedly said he expected an atmosphere more conducive to a fair hearing following the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government.
“This is a serious allegation that implies that the accused was not getting a fair trial in this court before the change of government,” he said.
On March 4, Najib reportedly told Reuters that the fall of the PH government that ousted him meant he now expected an atmosphere more conducive to a fair hearing.
“I’m not alluding to anything, because there’s no conclusion to the trial. But, hopefully, you know, I will get a fair trial,” the news agency quoted him as saying.
Najib, 66, is facing five trials over the 1MDB scandal, and the former prime minister denies the charges against him, saying they were politically motivated.
Before Sequerah, he is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the prosecution had the liberty to initiate a contempt proceeding but it had to think about it carefully.
Shafee said Najib had in the past asked for a gag order from the court to stop discussion about his SRC International corruption case but was refused.
“But Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been getting away with his remarks about Najib like calling him ‘thief’ and ‘robber’,” he said.
Shafee said Mahathir had also made comments “like what will happen if a small thief like Riza Aziz was allowed to go scot free”.
Najib’s trial, which enters day 36, will continue tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Sequerah has tentatively fixed July 23 to hear contempt proceedings against Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Adam, also in connection with this trial.
Last year, the judge allowed then attorney-general (AG) Tommy Thomas to initiate committal proceedings against Lokman for allegedly threatening prosecution witness Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.
Lokman lodged a police report challenging Amhari’s credibility as a witness following the latter’s admission on the witness stand that he had received a US$200,000 loan from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho.
The prosecution submitted that Lokman’s comments about Amhari were not only tantamount to threatening the witness or other potential witnesses, but also undermined the administration of justice.
The prosecution said Lokman also gave a video interview where he allegedly attacked the integrity of the attorney-general.
Last week, the Court of Appeal dismissed Lokman’s appeal on grounds that it was for the court to commence action against him and not the AG.
He has appealed the matter to the Federal Court.
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