1MDB trial: Judge says defence ‘going in circles’, Sri Ram ticks off defence for wasting time

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The prosecution in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial today accused Najib Razak’s lawyers of circling around the same material with their line of questioning and wasting the court’s time.

Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said Najib’s lawyer Hariharan Tara Singh, who was continuing his cross-examination of former 1MDB director Ismee Ismail, was asking the witness irrelevant questions.

Sri Ram said the questions were already “traversed” when former 1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testified previously.

“I don’t see the relevance. I’ve been very patient. If it is going to be suggested to this witness, all the documents that have been put in, there must be some relevance to the questions.

Shafwan Zaidon

“This witness’ testimony as to what Shahrol did or did not do, is wholly irrelevant because they are already contained in the documents, which are capable of forming a subject matter of a submission.

“I just want to save the court’s time,” Sri Ram told the court.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah agreed with Sri Ram, saying Ismee was in no position to comment on those documents as they were related to decisions made by Shahrol.

Sequerah also said the defence is “going in circles” with their line of questioning.

The judge told the defence to ask relevant questions instead of going through the same documents, which were already in evidence.

Shafwan Zaidon

At this juncture, Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said if the court finds the trial is going in circles, it is because of how Shahrol and others have put it to confuse people.

He also said this trial involves many documents that are “sham” transactions and Ismee, being a former board member of the state fund, can verify all this.

Sequerah again said he would allow a certain level of latitude but added that the rest of the questions can be directed in their submissions.

Najib is standing trial for corruption at the Kuala Lumpur High Court over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion in 1MDB funds.

He faces 25 charges – four for abuse of power and 21 for money laundering – for offences committed between 2011 and 2013.

Earlier today, Sri Ram also had objected to Hariharan’s line of questions, with the latter wanting Ismee to explain how Casey Tang Keng Chee, a former executive director at 1MDB, was roped into the Terengganu Investment Authority by fugitive Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

Sri Ram questioned the relevance of the question and said the defence should get directly to the point they want to make instead of asking the witness to explain the history of 1MDB.

Justice Sequerah acknowledged Sri Ram’s concern and said that he, too, would not see the end if the defence continued with the same method of questioning.

“I don’t see any end in sight for this witness in the foreseeable future if we carry on like this.

“I’ve actually allowed quite a lot of latitude but can we just bring matters to a conclusion,” Sequerah said.

Najib’s 1MDB hearing will continue tomorrow. – TMI