Najib ordered to rest, so 1MDB trial vacated again

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Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)-Tanore trial was vacated again today as his lawyer confirmed that the former prime minister’s hematoma condition had not improved.

Lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrived at 9.45am at the courtroom at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to give the update.

“The swelling has reduced but the puffing and redness are still as intense. He has consulted the doctor, and the doctor says to rest,” said Shafee.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

The lawyer added that his client will visit the doctor again tomorrow despite it being a public holiday.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said, “I suppose we have to vacate today’s hearing and resume on Thursday.”

Najib’s trial was also vacated yesterday for the same reason.

The courtroom was less crowded than usual today, with only Mohamad Mustafa P Kunyalam and Ahmad Akram Gharib from the prosecution, along with Shafee and two assistants from the defence team.

Judge Collin then discussed housekeeping matters with the lawyers to tighten measures of curbing the Covid-19 virus during the trial.

“The implementation of this new movement-control order and the rising number of Covid cases, we need to revert to a certain standard operating procedure (SOP).

“The SOP is not designed to make life difficult but to protect everyone. We need to reduce the number of counsels (in the courtroom),” he said.

The judge suggested for a lawyer to be seated per table from the six tables available in the courtroom.

Shafee then requested if another counsel Tania Scivetti, also his wife, could have the exception to sit with him as they came from the same household.

Shafee added that Scivetti was vaccinated yesterday with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

As for the prosecution, Akram also asked for an exception for the two front tables for both prosecution and defence specifically when lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram attends the trial.

“If Sri Ram is around, he needs assistance at his side.

“Then I will support Shafee’s suggestion that for the first table, allow two people to be seated at the ends of the table,” Akram said, ensuring there will be at least 1m distance.

Judge Collin permitted “one per table with slight modifications” but insisted that “safety has to be the paramount concern” and asked for cooperation from the lawyers.

Aside from the seating arrangement SOP, Collin also said the windows and doors of the courtroom will be opened at all times.

“We will also stick to the 90 minutes (running session), (stop for) sanitisation, resume and then finish at 3.30pm,” said Collin.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money-laundering involving the same amount.

Yesterday, Shafee informed that the Pekan MP developed a hematoma from his eye surgery last Thursday and was given a seven-day medical chit.

The trial will resume on Thursday at 9am. – TMI