The 1Malaysia Development Bhd audit-report tampering trial has been adjourned pending the outcome of a hearing next week, which will decide whether amendments to Najib Razak’s criminal charge as sought by the prosecution are prejudicial.
The proposed amendments to the 1MDB audit report tampering charges against Najib are substantial and not mere typos, said the former prime minister’s counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
During open-court proceedings before the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, Shafee said this when stating the defence’s objection against the prosecution’s application to amend the charge.
Previously, the prosecution informed the court that the proposed amendments were merely to correct typographical errors.
Shafee today informed Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that a charge is a notice to an accused person, therefore it has to be clear and specific.
“In a criminal proceeding, where a man’s liberty is at stake, natural justice is much more needed and must be interpreted strictly to allow (him to) defend himself,” he said.
The court then fixed June 24 to hear the prosecution’s application to amend the charge. It also allowed the defence’s application to vacate the 1MDB audit report trial for today and tomorrow to help the defence prepare for the hearing on June 24.
Should Zaini dismiss the prosecution’s application to amend the charge, the defence could then apply for the court to discharge and acquit Najib on grounds that his charge is defective.
Najib is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him.
Former 1MDB president and CEO K Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report.
Both of them were charged under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which specifies a jail term not exceeding 20 years, and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, on conviction.