Arul Kanda raring to go in 1MDB audit report case, says lawyer.
Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, who was charged alongside Najib Razak with tampering with the company’s audit report, is opposing the application by the former prime minister to adjourn their trial scheduled for Monday.
Arul Kanda’s counsel M Sivananthan told Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that his client just wished to proceed with the trial as he wished to be able to clear his name.
“My client has been under a dark cloud since charged last year and he also wants to see this trial go on.
“He is very anxious for the trial to go on for him to vindicate himself. I think it’s unfair for him,” Sivananthan said in his submission.
He added that there was no guarantee the trial would begin in January as requested by Najib’s lawyer if the December dates were vacated.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib also opposed the adjournment, saying it would lead to a negative perception of the judiciary.
He said the court had refused the prosecution’s application on Wednesday to adjourn the trial, and that Najib had filed another application before SRC International trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali to get 112 witness statements to prepare his defence, now scheduled for Dec 3 to 19.
“If he fails, there is a likelihood of him asking for a postponement from that judge so that his lawyers can interview witnesses,” he said.
The application will be heard before Nazlan this afternoon.
Nazlan is also the judge hearing Najib’s RM42 million SRC International case.
Today was fixed for hearing of Najib’s application to postpone the hearing of the matter which was set for Monday.
Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh submitted that his client sought the postponement in order to prepare the former premier to take the witness stand in the upcoming defence stage of his RM42 million SRC International case on Dec 3.
Harvinderjit said that his client seeks to postpone the 1MDB audit report tampering trial to January next year.
Having heard the lawyers, Zaini questioned the change in Najib’s legal team’s tone on the trial dates, noting that Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had in the past said he had no problem with the trial going on.
“At that point in time, he (Shafee) was aware the court in SRC case was going to deliver its decision in November and there was a possibility that the trial dates of defence would be in December. I was quite careful when I fixed dates, I wanted to make sure all parties are comfortable with the dates and they are all aware of the dates.
“I have to admit it comes to me as a bit of a surprise for your team now to change your tone, when prior to this you were quite insistent on the trial going on… Why the change in stance now?” the judge asked, noting that he was careful when scheduling trial dates and had repeatedly said he would be fair to all parties involved.
Harvinderjit said that Najib’s lawyers now need time as they have the burden of rebutting or explaining the charges against him in the SRC case following the judge’s “elaborate” findings that required Najib to enter defence.
Harvinderjit also said Najib’s lawyers were also seeking to obtain information on witnesses other than around 66 witnesses offered to the defence in the SRC trial.
Zaini then told the prosecution and defence that he would deliver his decision on Najib’s postponement application on Monday morning, but reminded them to prepare for full trial of the 1MDB audit report tampering case in the event that he rejects the application.
Najib was allowed by Zaini to be exempted from attending today’s open-court proceedings.
It is understood that Najib is helping the BN opposition in its campaign in the runup to the Tanjung Piai by-election, which is set for this Saturday.
Previously, there were already two attempts to postpone the trial, with the first one rejected by Zaini on Oct 7, and the second one turned down by Zaini on Wednesday this week.
Najib has five criminal cases – with three ongoing – and they cannot go on simultaneously as he has to be present in court to ensure a fair trial.