Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today has failed in his attempt to remove former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his on-going trial for alleged tampering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report.
This was the third attempt by Najib to recuse Sri Ram from prosecuting in the 1MDB-linked criminal case. The first was filed in another 1MDB case before a different judge, and the second was through a civil proceeding.
High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, when dismissing the Pekan MP’s application, said the court found Najib’s allegation that Sri Ram had been involved in the investigation against him unmeritorious.
“There is no cogent evidence to support the applicant’s allegation, and it remains purely hypothetical. This issue had in any event been canvassed by the applicant’s application (Najib) in the previous applications highlighted by the prosecution as respondent. It is a moot point.
“It has been deliberated and decided. The decisions held by the other courts should remain and not be regurgitated again,” said the judge.
Justice Mohamed Zaini, in his brief grounds, said Najib had, among others, relied on the communications that took place between the former Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and Sri Ram as proof of the latter’s biasness towards him and the applicant’s apprehension of Sri Ram’s biasness was without basis and misplaced.
“Sri Ram, like any other person, is entitled to have his personal opinion. It remains just that. It would have been a different consideration if he had demonstrated his biasness when carrying out his duty as a Senior Public Prosecutor. His personal opinion cannot be taken to mean that it will impinge on his duties as a Senior Public Prosecutor.
“The event nevertheless, as highlighted by the respondent, took place before Sri Ram was appointed as the Senior Public Prosecutor. More pertinent is the fact that the applicant had not made any complaints over Sri Ram’s conduct in the trials involving the applicant. This lends credence to the respondent’s contention that Sri Ram had been above board in his conduct as a Senior Public Prosecutor,” he said.
Justice Mohamed Zaini further said that it was ultimately the court’s bounden duty to ensure that a trial was conducted fairly in the interests of justice.
“The court will ultimately come to the aid of any party that was treated unfairly, if it ever comes to that. The applicant’s application is therefore dismissed,” he added.
The 1MDB’s audit report trial will resume on Feb 22.
At today’s proceeding, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib prosecuted, while lawyer Nur Syahirah Hanapiah, represented Najib.
Najib, 67, and former 1MDB chief executive officer, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, 45, are on trial over 1MDB audit tampering charges.
The Pekan MP is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.