Prosecution told to be ready with witnesses next Monday.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s highly anticipated RM2.3 billion 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial scheduled to start today has been tentatively fixed for August 26 to be heard at the High Court.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who is leading the prosecution team, informed the High Court that Najib’s 1MDB trial would not be able to proceed today for several reasons.
“Although today has been fixed for hearing, we are unable to proceed.
“The SRC trial is not over and the state of the case is that the last witness is still under examination in chief.
“We are expecting for that case to be completed by the end of this week,” he said.
Sri Ram said the trial was also unable to proceed due to administrative difficulties as the prosecution was not able to serve 12 of the witness statements until Friday.
Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah: The dates fixed much earlier. May I know why the witness statements served late?
Sri Ram: Our first three witnesses are substantive witnesses. The defence needed time to do some verifications on the documents. Not fair to the defence for witnesses not called in order. And it also must give opportunity to complete the SRC case.
The final reason, Sri Ram said was that the prosecution was only able to serve 15 bundles of additional documents to the defence this morning.
Sri Ram then suggested to the court to commence the 1MDB trial on September 3 for these reasons alone.
Asked by Sequerah whether the prosecution could read the opening statement of the case today, Sri Ram said the prosecution was not ready to read the opening statement.
High Court judge Sequerah then fixed August 26 for the 1MDB trial to commence after hearing submissions from both the defence and prosecution.
The judge ordered the prosecution to be ready with their opening statement on Monday.
He fixed case management on Thursday (August 22) to find out the progress of SRC trial and during which he will decide once and for all, if the 1MDB trial will begin on August 26 or September 3.
Sequerah also directed the prosecution team to be ready with its witnesses on August 26 regardless of whether the witnesses are giving their evidence through oral or via witness statements.
“Monday we will go with oral evidence. Make the witnesses available,” said Sequerah.
Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah expressed his view that preparations regarding the witness statements required him and his team members to read and for them to intelligently follow the witness testimony.
“When a witness is armed with a witness statement, they will go like a train,” he said adding that the defence needed more time to prepare as they had just received 15 bundles of documents whereby some documents go to over 90 pages and 200 pages.
Sequerah: I can maintain the trial to start on Monday. I’m prepared to be reasonable but if you need time…I can stand down and adjourn it for a while or for half a day.
Najib is facing four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
Sequerah had earlier fixed from today until Nov 14 for the trial proceedings.