Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah was displeased when Najib Abdul Razak was a no-show for the former premier’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB trial this morning.
The accused was absent because he and 113 other MPs were summoned to Istana Negara today in relation to the issue of the new prime minister.
It was reported that when the judge entered the courtroom at around 9.40am, he was informed by defence counsel Rahmat Hazlan that the legal team was only told last night that the Pekan MP and other lawmakers were summoned for an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong today.
“So the king is to interview each MP one by one; my client is scheduled to leave from PWTC (Putra World Trade Centre) for the palace at 10.30am. We don’t know specifically what time he is scheduled to meet the king… But he is scheduled to leave at 10.30am from PWTC,” Rahmat said.
However, the judge responded by saying that the accused should have exercised courtesy by coming to court earlier today to inform about the Agong’s summon and seek postponement of the morning portion of the trial.
“He should have had the courtesy to come here first. Let me say in no uncertain terms: the king summoned MPs to the palace, of course, he (Najib) has to be there, be obedient to the king’s commands.
“But the newspaper reports I read said it’s going to be in batches. Your client better let me know from what time to what time. I want to know what time is his slot there and after he meets the king, I want him back here and the trial to proceed. I may not even stop at 4pm today,” Sequerah said.
The judge gave Najib’s legal team 10 minutes to ascertain and inform the court on the time slot accorded to the former Umno president for his audience with His Majesty.
After proceedings resumed around 10am following a short break, Rahmat told the court that the legal team was not able to provide a specific time of Najib’s audience with the king, because the MPs would meet His Majesty individually.
“I was told he will be leaving PWTC at 10.30am and at any point in time he would be called to meet. The interview is one by one, it could be from 10.30am and beyond,” the lawyer explained.
The judge reiterated that the accused needs to commit to a time, adding that otherwise, the court will resume proceedings this afternoon.
Rahmat replied that the legal team would notify the court when they get an update from Najib’s aides on when the accused is available to attend the 1MDB trial.
Sequerah: I am trying to be excused from a webinar that I have to join today because of this case. So, please keep me informed as I intend to carry on, come what may, and be prepared to go over time. Because we have lost too much time (from previous adjournments and postponements since the trial began in 2019).
Rahmat: I understand, Yang Arif has been most accommodating.
Sequerah: I am sorry you have to be kept in suspense, but it’s unavoidable. All of us have duties to perform. As I said, if the king summons, he has to be there, but he doesn’t have to be there all day. I need a window of time when he has to be there and give the Majesty his views.
Yesterday, the court had allowed temporary adjournment of the trial in the morning, so that BN adviser Najib could attend a meeting with other coalition leaders at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur.
The PWTC meeting was over the issue of the new prime minister, with the Agong having directed all MPs to submit their choice of premier to the palace by 4pm yesterday.
The trial yesterday resumed around 3pm with Najib in attendance.
Yesterday, Sequerah had also informed the prosecution and defence team that today’s proceedings would have a shorter lunch break of between 15 and 20 minutes, in order to make up for lost time.
The judge yesterday initially informed that the trial had to end at 4pm today as he was scheduled to attend a webinar. However, Sequerah said the trial would now continue beyond 4pm.
Former BN chairperson Najib was seen leaving the palace around 11.35am, following an audience with the Agong.
Najib is on trial for four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB’s funds. – Malaysiakini