KUALA LUMPUR: The judge presiding over Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial at the High Court here says he cannot direct the media on how they want to report the case as it is their prerogative.
This comes after Najib’s lead counsel Shafee Abdullah complained about an article published earlier today, which the lawyer contended was “totally unfair” and “completely jaundiced”.
The article was based on several paragraphs from the witness statement of the 49th prosecution witness, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin.
“Of course, it is verbatimly correct but the reporting is totally unfair… in the article you will find that they merely quoted the witness which became the subject of objection (from the defence).
“It is a lopsided reporting with no citation of the objection and therefore putting what the investigating officer said to be in limbo as to the veracity,” said Shafee.
Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah, now a Court of Appeal judge, said he took note of the complaint made by the defence.
“Perhaps the reporting ought to have stated, to place (the objection) in proper perspective that it was said, that an objection was taken on grounds of hearsay… that I think perhaps will assuage your (the defence) concerns.
“With the objection taken, obviously the veracity has yet to be tested. In any event, that is a determination for me to make at the end of it (the trial),” said Sequerah.
The senior lawyer then suggested that the judge consider making a statement to reporters covering the trial to be fair in reporting the case.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said he had no comment on the matter.
The defence has been objecting to several paragraphs in Nur Aida’s 95-page witness statement since she started reading it out on Jan 2.
Most of the objections raised by Shafee were related to Nur Aida’s testimony, claiming that the MACC officer drew various conclusions about the case in her witness statement.
Najib, 70, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The hearing continues on Friday.