I’m not the one who’ll decide if Najib is guilty, says Sri Ram

Ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram.

KUALA LUMPUR: Ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram has refuted accusations of bias in Najib Razak’s 1MDB-related trials, saying it is for the court to decide whether the former prime minister is guilty of the charges against him based on the evidence provided.

“In all the trials I am handling, the prosecution has led evidence which is relevant and admissible.

“Ultimately, it is for this court to adjudge the guilt of the accused based on evidence in each of those cases,” he said in his counter-affidavit in reply to the affidavits filed by Najib and former attorney-general (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali on June 12.

His affidavit, sighted by FMT, was filed at the High Court registry here yesterday evening.

On June 12, Najib attempted again to disqualify Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team, this time in the ongoing 1MDB audit report tampering trial before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

The hearing to disqualify him will be heard on Aug 7.

Sri Ram, a former Federal Court judge appointed by the government to prosecute the 1MDB cases, also denied accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Apandi, who filed an affidavit in support of Najib’s application, had said Sri Ram was prejudiced and biased against the former prime minister.

Apandi was appointed as AG on Najib’s advice in July 2015, a position he held until Pakatan Harapan came into power in May 2018, upon which he was sacked.

In January 2018, he cleared Najib of any wrongdoing related to the 1MDB funds in his accounts.

In his affidavit, he said Sri Ram had suggested that the fact that money was found in Najib’s accounts was enough grounds for charges against him.

“I was surprised by his attitude which exemplifies an unreasonable approach, especially coming from an ex-apex court judge and eminent counsel who had always preached on the right to fair trial.”

He also said he had been taught that a good prosecutor would not charge an accused person without taking into account his statement as well as the entire structure of his proposed defence.

“So I replied (to Sri Ram) by saying that in respect of the RM2.6 billion case investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), there was sufficient explanation by the accused which had satisfied the investigation agency.

“I also said MACC had come out twice with press statements clearing Najib of wrongdoing,” he said.

He claimed Sri Ram had said that while MACC might have cleared a suspect, it was for the public prosecutor to charge the individual if witness statements showed a case.

“I had never heard of such a jaundiced view coming from the mouth of such a purportedly experienced person,” he said.

In a Facebook post, he also claimed that Sri Ram had asked him to arrest Najib for an unspecified offence in January 2018 on the instruction of then-opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In his affidavit, Sri Ram said Najib had alleged bias in his ability to conduct the prosecution in the ongoing 1MDB trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, which ended up at the Federal Court in his favour.

“I therefore state the issues raised here have been adjudicated upon all levels of the judicial process. It is mala fide for the accused to make application in instalments,” he added.

He also admitted to meeting Apandi at his private residence in January 2018, saying he and his wife had been the target of cybertroopers who suggested that the ex-AG was disloyal, incompetent and had abused his power.

“I attended Apandi and Faridah at their home in a professional capacity,” he said.

“(Lawyer) JR Tey was in attendance with me. I rendered certain advice which is the subject matter of legal professional privilege.”

In the course of his conversation, he said, he had advised Apandi that there was evidence in the public domain against Najib, and that it was his duty to have the former prime minister arrested and charged.

“At no time during our conversation did I ever mention that I was sent by Mahathir,” he said.

“There was no discussion about freezing an account as suggested in Apandi’s affidavit, neither was there any mention of the audit case which is now underway.”

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