Najib Trial: Day One

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The historic trial of former prime minister Najib Razak begins.

Najib, 66, faces three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his position, and three counts of money laundering over SRC International Sdn Bhd funds amounting to RM42 million.

If found guilty, he could be jailed up to 20 years’ and fined.

With 3,000 pages of evidentiary documents, including statements from 26 witnesses, prosecutors are expected to put forward their case that Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, misappropriated state funds to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Chronology of Events:

1.50pm: A-G Tommy Thomas arrives.

Mukhriz Hazim

1.56pm: Najib arrives with his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah. He is greeted by about a dozen supporters.

1.58pm: Najib’s son Norashman Najib Ashman arrives.

1.59pm: Some recite a prayer for Najib before he heads for the courtroom. His wife Rosmah Mansor is nowhere to be seen.

2.00pm: When questioned by reporters, the supporters say they are from Pekan, and shout “BosKu” and “Hidup Najib”.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

2.07pm: From the public gallery, Najib takes his place in the dock.

There are at least 30 journalists in the courtroom.

2.10pm: Justice Mohd Nazlan takes his place on the bench.

2.15pm: Thomas introduces his team and informs the court about the parties holding watching briefs.

“We are ready to start,” Thomas says.

However, Shafee raises an objection.

He says, “We have filed a motion on points of law that should be taken before the trial starts. We have put in a cert of urgency to look at those motions.”

Tommy replies that the motions have not been served to his office properly. He tells the court he received a set of papers by email at 11.30am for an adjournment at the 11th hour.

“The first charges were filed on July 4 and amended in August. It has been eight months since and yet they waited until this morning to challenge the charges. The trial process is being challenged.

“It’s audacious that they are challenging at 2.15pm April 3 just before I make my opening statement.

“There is no other inference from this conduct other than to delay the trial,” he says.

2.17pm: Clare Rewcastle-Brown from the Sarawak Report arrives for the trial.

“I’m here to take in the flavour of the day, to get feedback and what the feeling is here in court. I’m here as a journalist, just doing my job,” she says.

She goes to the video link room for journalists to observe the trial for her report.

2.30pm: Defence lawyers Harvinderjit Singh and Yusof Zainal Abidin argue why the court should consider its motion to delay the trial.

Yusof: “This is only an attempt to delay the trial if after looking at our motions and they are found to be frivolous.”

The bundles of documents from the defence are passed to Nazlan.

2.42pm: Shafee informs the court that the defence has filed an application stating that the CBT and abuse of position charges against Najib are defective, and asks that the application be heard first.

2.45pm: Thomas objects, saying defence is using delaying tactics. “If they are saying something is wrong with the charges, they had ample time (to do so before). But certainly not this morning. There can be no other inference from this conduct other than (that) they are trying to delay the trial,” he says.

V Sithambaram argues for the prosecution.

“They say the charge is bad, we say it’s not bad. And if they are bad, we will take the risk. There’s no detriment to their case. They were in a position to challenge these charges as they were filed in August.

“This case can go on and their appeals can be heard later. This is just to delay the trial to listen to their motion.

“This trial should be scuttled further,” he says.

2.50pm: The judge after hearing the arguments rules, dismissing Najib’s application (that the CBT and abuse of position charges against Najib are defective) to have his motion to be heard today before the commencement of the trial.

“This motion was presented today while charges were filed last August   No requirement to hear the motion now and hence the trial should start now,” he says.

2.53pm: Najib stands up as the seven charges are read out to him by the court clerk.

3.07pm: Thomas delivers his opening speech.

Harvinderjit, argues that the prosecution’s opening statement does not comply with the Criminal Procedure Code. He goes paragraph by paragraph to dismiss the charges.

“All these statements are not evidence of deceit,” he says.

Sithambaram says Najib’s lawyers are just looking for ways to delay the trial.

“In all my 40 years, this is the first time where the opening statement is being contested. This is just another attempt to divert the court and delay the proceedings.”

The judge agrees and tells the prosecution to bring on its first witness

3.20pm: Najib has been emotionless from the time he took his place in the dock. The only activity from him is when he adjusts his glasses from time to time.

3.24pm: First prosecution witness, Muhamad Akmaludin Abdullah, 35, is called to the stand. He is an assistant registrar at the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

3.30pm: Akmaludin is reading his witness statement from the stand. He relates details about SRC and its shareholding.

DPP Manoj Kurup is conducting the examination-in-chief.

Prosecution and defence lawyers are verifying the various documents with the witness.

4.20pm: A man who identifies himself as “Sofian Putra” leads a small group of Najib’s supporters in shouts of “Allahuakbar Takbir” (Allah is greatest) and “Tolak media asing” (Reject foreign media).

They are eventually subdued by police officers, as it is against the rules to make noise in the court complex.

When approached, Sofian tells the media that foreign media are unwelcome because they made “Malays fight Malays” and are “liars”.

4.45pm: The prosecution completes verification of information and documents supplied by Akmaludin as evidence for its case.

Harvinderjit asks the witness to obtain a list of lodgement documents pertaining to all transactions concerning SRC International. He also asks Akmaludin for all information pertaining to Yayasan 1Malaysia.

4.50pm: Harvinderjit starts cross-examination on the witness.

5.10pm: Cross-examination has ended.

5.30pm: Shafee tells the court that he has more cases tomorrow and cannot be present for this one.

“I cannot be pushed on both sides of the candle. I have other cases in which the accused has been incarcerated since 2012. Hence, they are more important,” he tells the court.

Thomas tells Shafee this is not a good excuse.

“Both sides have big group of lawyers. But no lawyer is indispensable. The unavailability of one lawyer cannot be an excuse for adjournment and we should continue on April 8 and April 9,” Thomas says, adding that if Shafee cannot be present, other lawyers on the defence team are capable of cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses.

Shafee replies that, as lead counsel, he should be present.

“I need to supervise my team. There’s only one general in my team,” he says.

Nazlan tells both sides there is some degree of priority in this case.

“As such, I set April 15-May 10 for the continuation. There should be sufficient notice for alternative arrangements to be made. (We) will start at 9am,” the judge says.

5.40pm: Supporters shout “Malu apa, Bosku” as Najib leaves. He turns to wave at his supporters but does not address them.

The Prosecution:

  1. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas
  2. Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah
  3. Datuk V Sithambaram
  4. Manoj Kurup
  5. Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff
  6. Donald Joseph Franklin
  7. Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim
  8. Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi
  9. Sulaiman Kho Kheng Fuei
  10. Budiman Lutfi Mohamed
  11. Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul
  12. Muhammad Izzat Fauzan

The Defence:

  1. Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah
  2. Harvinderjit Singh
  3. Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden
  4. Datuk Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin
  5. Farhan Read
  6. Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohamed
  7. Rahmat Hazlan
  8. Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee
  9. Tiara Katrina Fuad
  10. Nur Syahirah Hanapiah
  11. Zahira Eleena Redza