1MDB trial: Prosecution told to be ready with witnesses next Monday

19 Aug 2019 / 14:04 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The trial of Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak who is facing four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money, will begin next Monday in which the prosecution is expected to start with oral evidence by witnesses.

High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah directed the prosecution team to be ready with its witnesses on that day regardless of whether the witnesses are giving their evidence through oral or via witness statements.

“Monday we will go with oral evidence. Make the witnesses available,“ said Justice Sequerah.

Former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who was appointed as senior deputy public prosecutor explained that their first three witnesses were substantive witnesses (key witnesses) who would give their evidence through witness statements.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah expressed his view that preparations regarding the witness statements required him and his team members to read and for them to intelligently follow the witness testimony.

“When a witness is armed with a witness statement, they will go like a train,” he said adding that the defence needed more time to prepare as they had just received 15 bundles of documents whereby some documents go to over 90 pages and 200 pages.

Justice Sequerah: I can maintain the trial to start on Monday. I’m prepared to be reasonable but if you need time ... I can stand down and adjourn it for a while or for half a day. The trial will proceed on Monday but I will hear you on Thursday.

Earlier, Sri Ram requested the trial to commence on Sept 3 citing three reasons that former prime minister’s ongoing corruption trial involving SRC International Sdn Bhd before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali has not been concluded.

“I was informed by Datuk V. Sithambaram (ad hoc DPP) that the last witness is giving evidence in examination-in-chief and the defence needs one and half days to cross-examine the witness,“ he said.

Sri Ram said the second ground for the postponement request was because the prosecution was not able to serve the witness statements of 12 witnesses until Friday and that they needed time to do some verification on the documents.

“This morning we also served 15 bundles of documents to the defence. For the above reasons, 1MDB should commence on Sept 3 as they (prosecution in SRC case) have the opportunity to complete their case,“ he said.

Justice Sequerah: The dates fixed much earlier. May I know why the witness statements served late?

Sri Ram: Our first three witnesses are substantive witnesses. The defence needed time to do some verifications on the documents. Not fair to the defence for witnesses not called in order. And it also must give the opportunity to complete the SRC case.

Asked by Justice Sequerah whether the prosecution could read the opening statement of the case today, Sri Ram said the prosecution was not ready to read the opening statement.

Justice Sequerah ordered the prosecution to be ready with their opening statement and witnesses on Monday and set this Thursday for case management to find out the progress of SRC trial.

He then granted Sri Ram’s application to postpone the 1MDB trial, also dubbed the 1MDB-Tanore trial, which was scheduled to begin today.

On Sept 20, 2018, Najib was charged at the sessions court here on four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

He pleaded not guilty to all 25 charges and later the case was transferred to the High Court. — Bernama

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