Datuk Seri Najib Razak exhausted today his legal options to defer his main 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial until after his ongoing SRC International case.
At the Federal Court this morning, a five-judge bench chaired by Chief Justice of Malaysia Datuk Seri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat dismissed the former prime minister’s appeal over his bid delay the 1MDB trial – also known as the “Tanore” case – scheduled to start on August 19.
In a unanimous ruling, the judges upheld the appellate court’s decision that the High Court was correct in scheduling the trial in accordance with Section 259 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
“We agree with the Court of Appeal that there was no error in its judgement.
“The learned High Court judge also did not commit any error in the exercise of his discretion.
“There is no reason for intervention by the Bench to give a direction to the High Court,” Tengku Maimun said.
However, the CJ said both sides could seek directions from the High Court judge when they appear on August 19.
Earlier, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas also withdrew his appeal on grounds that the prosecution was at the “tail end” of its case in the SRC International trial and was confident of closing its case on the last allotted date of the trial on August 16.
The prosecution is expected to wrap up questioning of its final witness this Friday.
He said the 1MDB trial could technically begin on August 28, precisely 14 days after the witness statements are served to the defence as required under Section 402b of the CPC.
In reading out the same judgment, Tengku Maimun said the bench consequently decided to strike out the prosecution’s appeal.
On August 5, the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeals brought by both the prosecution and defence to delay the 1MDB trial.
A three-judge bench chaired by Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli said High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had exercised his discretion to have the 1MDB case as scheduled.
When dismissing the prosecution’s formal bid to postpone the trial on July 18, Sequerah said in his judgment that he found insufficient grounds to justify delaying the hearings.
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.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah today submitted that Najib would not get a fair trial if the 1MDB and SRC International cases proceed simultaneously.
“The accused has the same defence team and they will be hard-pressed for time to prepare the 1MDB and SRC case at the same time,” he said.
Shafee said the right to a fair trial also includes the accused’s right to representation by a competent counsel or legal team.
“Why should the right to counsel be taken away from him? He is the victim now,” he said, adding that Najib is also facing charges in two others cases apart from the 1MDB and SRC International matters.