The much put-off start to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s highly-anticipated corruption trial over the RM2.3 billion funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) at the Kuala Lumpur High Court will be decided once and for all tomorrow.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said he will decide the start of the 1MDB trial and the dates then, when the case was raised in court today for management.
Sequerah also agreed to a suggestion by ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to call in formal witnesses to testify without their witness statements on August 27.
“We leave it to Tuesday for formal witnesses with no witness statements.
“However, we will meet tomorrow at 4.30pm to see. I would still like to start on Tuesday or Wednesday,” the judge said.
Sri Ram suggested hearing to begin next Tuesday as there will be a judicial review application hearing to disqualify him as the lead prosecutor in the 1MDB case taking place at the Court of Appeal on August 26.
As both the prosecution and defence team are required to be present at the appellate court for the hearing, the trial is, therefore, unable to proceed on the previously tentatively fixed date on August 26.
Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah added that the judicial review would take at least half a day and maintained that it would be most suitable for the 1MDB trial to start on September 3.
“In the interest of justice, I wish to implore to Yang Arif that we need time to read the volume of documents given by the prosecution,” he said.
Shafee also referred to reports that 1MDB whistle-blower Xavier Andre Justo had just handed over 257,000 documents to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
He requested that the defence be allowed to go through the documents given by the former PetroSaudi International executive.
Shafee also argued that the defence will not be able to complete its cross-examination of the final prosecution witness in Najib’s ongoing SRC International Sdn Bhd trial by Monday.
“We will try to cut down on our cross-examination and I will discuss with my associate, but it will take two and a half days.
“I’m looking at earliest Wednesday,” he said.
Under the 1MDB trial, Najib is facing a total of 25 charges, namely four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.
The High Court previously set August 19 to 29, the entirety of September and October except for Fridays, and the first two weeks of November to hear Najib’s 1MDB trial pending conclusion of his ongoing SRC International corruption trial before a different judge, Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Najib is being tried on seven money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges over RM42 million in SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.
The 57th and final prosecution witness, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Senior Assistant Commissioner Rosli Hussain is currently taking the stand in the SRC International trial.
The SRC International hearing resumes this morning.