KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today allowed former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s (pix) application to inspect 17,000 documents surrendered by Xavier Andre Justo to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as part of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) investigations.
The application was made in relation to the corruption trial faced by Najib involving RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
In the application, Najib sought for a court order to compel the prosecution or any other entities that have the custody, care and control of the documents that Justo surrendered to the MACC in relation to 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd, either in its physical form or as retrieved from a digital storage device, for his inspection.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah made the decision after hearing submissions from Najib’s counsel, Al Firdaus Shahrul Naing and Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
Justice Sequerah in his judgment said the application by the applicant (Najib) was not a fishing expedition and the materials sought were relevant to the charges in the ongoing 1MDB trial.
“I also find there is sufficient basis that the documents are relevant to the applicant and his defence,“ the judge said.
In regards with Section 124 of the Evidence Act, Justice Sequerah said the respondent’s (public prosecutor) privilege claim could be reviewed by the court and so the matter was not considered conclusive.
“I do not find anything to substantiate that public interest might suffer from the disclosure of the materials,“ the judge said.
After the judge delivered the ruling, Sri Ram told the court that the prosecution would hand over 17,000 documents via thumb drive to the defence team.
Justice Sequerah directed the prosecution to provide the documents to the defence within three weeks from today.
Najib, 66, as applicant filed the notice of motion last Oct 16 naming the public prosecutor as the respondent.
In the application, Najib among others sought the court to compel the prosecution or any other entities having the custody and control of these documents to produce and provide to him.
He filed the application on the grounds that the documents sought are relevant and could consist to the defence of the applicant, which have been omitted or suppressed from production contrary to Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Najib said the inspection or production of the documents would not be contrary to the public interest, rather the non-disclosure and denial for inspection breach the applicant’s right to a fair trial.
In the prosecution’s affidavit affirmed by MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operation) Datuk Seri Azam Baki stated that the documents were received in official confidence and protected under Section 124 of the Evidence Act.
The court fixed Jan 7 for case management for parties to update on the hand over of the documents.
Meanwhile, for 1MDB case, Justice Sequerah fixed Jan 13 to Jan 16, and Jan 20 to Jan 23 to continue the trial.
The court also set the trial on Feb 3 to Feb 6, Feb 10 to Feb 13, Feb 17 to Feb 20, March 9 to March 12, March 16 to March 19, March 23 to March 26 and March 30.
Other fixed dates are on April 2, May 4 to May 6, June 1 to June 4, June 8 to June 11, July 20 to July 23, July 27 to July 30 and the whole of August excluding Fridays.
The defence will continue to cross-examine prosecution key witness, former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi. — Bernama