KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today fixed Aug 7 to decide on Najib Razak’s bid to strike out his charge of tampering with the 1MDB audit report.
Trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said this after hearing arguments from ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram and Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
The defence team made the striking-out bid on the basis that Najib’s charge under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act did not disclose an offence and was “oppressive” against the former prime minister.
Najib is accused of using his position to obtain immunity from legal action by instructing for amendments to be made to the finalised report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is accused of abetting in the crime.
Sri Ram argued that the striking-out bid should be dismissed as the prosecution was still at the preliminary stage of presenting evidence before the court.
He said only seven witnesses, including former chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa and former auditor-general (A-G) Ambrin Buang, had testified so far.
“Our charge against the accused (Najib) is framed under Section 23 for abusing his power to obtain gratification,” said Sri Ram.
“The court has to decide whether the action of the accused, in demanding that Ali call for a meeting, constitutes abuse of power.”
During the last hearing on June 16, Ali was cross-examined by Shafee. The trial will resume on July 27.
Sri Ram said the prosecution had yet to call other witnesses and adduce documents to show the alleged gratification committed by Najib.
Shafee meanwhile told the court that evidence presented by the prosecution so far could not sustain the charges.
“Their own witnesses said they treated the 1MDB audit report as a draft version until it was submitted to PAC and the A-G lawfully made the amendments,” he said.
He also said the amended charge, tendered by the prosecution on June 24, was misleading as to the choice of words, “muktamad” (finalise) and “dimuktamadkan semula” (finalised again), asking how something that was already final could be finalised again.