No Change, Court Rules Najib’s 1MDB Trial to Start Aug 19

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The Court of Appeal affirmed today the High Court’s decision to start Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial in precisely 14 more days, whether or not his trial in the SRC International case is still ongoing.

Yusof Mat Isa

Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebii who chaired the three-judge bench dismissed the appeal brought by both the prosecution and defence to delay the 1MDB trial, also known as the “Tanore” case.

In a unanimous decision, the appellate court judges said High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had exercised his discretion to have the 1MDB case as scheduled.

“In the appeal before us, we are not persuaded by the argument.

“The learned judge has given his reasons why he refused to postpone the 1MDB case and the reasons were valid,” he said.

The other two Court of Appeal judges were Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.

Abdul Rahman in reading out the judgement said the prosecution cannot choose to adjourn a case nor utilise the court as a “mere repository”.

“Furthermore, the learned High Court judge has made it clear to the learned parties that he was willing to accommodate and continue with the on-going SRC trial.

“For these reasons, we are of the view that this is not fit and proper case for appellate intervention,” he said.

On July 18, Sequerah in dismissing the prosecution’s formal bid to postpone the trial, said in his judgment that he found insufficient grounds to justify delaying the hearings.

“It is in the public interest for the (1MDB) case to proceed,” Sequerah said.

He added that the trial had already been stalled twice.

Najib is currently being tried for seven money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges over RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

The SRC International trial is scheduled to run until August 15. However, AG Tommy Thomas had said that it was progressing more slowly than the prosecution expected.

Sequerah had previously set August 19 to 29; throughout September and October except for Fridays; and the first two weeks in November, for Najib’s 1MDB trial.

Najib, in his affidavit in support of Thomas’ postponement bid, said he and his defence team might be prejudiced if both the 1MDB and SRC International trials proceed at the same time.

Meanwhile, Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah urged the court to prepare its written grounds quickly as he had instructions to file an appeal in the Federal Court.