Former prime minister Najib Razak arrived at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today amid a strong show of support by his followers to begin his defence in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.
Najib, who arrived at about 9am, was greeted by his supporters at the court lobby.
He is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.
He was also charged with three counts of money laundering and three counts of CBT in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the former 1MDB unit.
The trial has been fixed for 10 days until Dec 19. The prosecution team is led by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram.
The defence team, meanwhil,e is led by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Najib’s first day in the witness stand today was not without several eyebrow-raising moments.
The first former Malaysian prime minister to ever be charged with a crime, he chose to testify as a witness in his own defence and so open himself to cross-examination from prosecutors and public scrutiny.
Right off the bat were a few missteps that temporarily held up the hearing.
Entering the witness stand and asked to produce his identification card for the court’s record, Najib had to admit that he did not have it on him.
The court had to wait while his aide went to look for the Pekan MP’s MyKad and produce it, which took about five minutes.
Long witness statement
Jaws dropped inside the courtroom when it was learnt that Najib would be reading from a statement that ran 243 pages long before cross-examination from the prosecution.
Najib’s oath-taking, done in English and Bahasa Malaysia, was also noteworthy as witnesses in most other cases usually only swear in one language.
“I, Najib Abdul Razak do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence which I shall give in this case shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” Najib said with his right hand raised.
With his 243-page witness statement placed in front of him, Najib began his defence by describing his background, including his decades-long political career .
Najib could also be seen pacing his reading of the testimony in Bahasa Malaysia, often pausing between phrases and several words to allow the microphone to capture his voice with those sitting in the gallery listening attentively.
Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah also directed questions to Najib, to which the former prime minister answered based on his written testimony.
Missing witness statement pages
Proceedings were briefly disrupted for several minutes after three pages were discovered missing in Najib’s written testimony.
Najib resumed reading about 10 minutes later after the defence team returned with additional photocopies of the missing pages.
Zahid’s courtesy call
Halfway into reading his testimony, Najib received an unexpected visit from his former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who was also present in court today for his own corruption trial.