The prosecution in Najib’s corruption and abuse of power trial closed its case after 58 days of hearing.
The prosecution in Najib Abdul Razak’s RM42 million SRC International case is confident that it has proven a prima facie case against the former prime minister.
DPP V Sithambaram said that this is seen today when the prosecution closed its case after having called 57 witnesses over the course of the hearing since April.
“I must say as a prosecutor, we are not allowed to forecast what the judge will decide.
“However, the prosecution is confident that it has proven a prima facie case in calling the 57 witnesses, and the tendering of documentary and contemporaneous evidence in 2014 and 2015.
“We are confident we have proven a prima facie case against accused Najib to answer the charges levelled against him by the prosecution.
“The case (defence stage of the SRC International trial will begin in December if the defence is called (against Najib).
“If not completed in December, it could be completed by January (2020),” Sithambaram said.
Earlier during the trial, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas closed the prosecution’s case after 58 days of trial, with DPP Suhaimi Ibrahim having wrapped up re-examination of MACC Investigation Officer Rosli Hussain.
Thomas had then offered 66 witnesses to the defence team, in the event that Najib is ordered to enter his defence.
“We will endeavour to contact and secure the witnesses. They are all contactable,” he told the judge.
In regard to who are the potential witnesses offered to the defence, Sithambaram said among them are former minister in the prime minister’s department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, Nor Mohamed Yakcop and former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
“Zeti and Nor Mohamed Yakcop would also be there (among the pool of 66 potential witnesses for the defence).
“But just because we offered 66 witnesses does not mean all of them would be called (by the defence team in the event that Najib is ordered to enter his defence).
“What the defence requires, they would indicate (which witness they seek), and we then would make arrangement for them to interview the witnesses,” Sithambaram said.
Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali had then fixed Nov 11 for the decision on whether the prosecution has established a prima facie case against Najib, and whether the former premier needs to enter his defence against the seven charges of abuse of power, corruption, and money laundering.
Nazlan had also fixed Oct 22 and tentatively Oct 23 for oral submissions prior to the date of verdict.
In regard to the allegation that Najib’s defence team would be burdened by having to juggle between the SRC defence stage of the trial and the prosecution stage of Najib’s 1MDB trial, Sithambaram said this is done at their own peril for having the same defence team handling both matters.
“In regard to (the notion that the defence team has to handle) too many cases, as far as we are concerned, there is the prosecution team and the defence team.
“If the defence engages the same (bunch of lawyers) team for several cases, they do that at their own peril.
“They would feel pressure, but that is something to be expected if one takes up more than one case (simultaneously),” Sithambaram said.
It was previously reported that Najib’s defence team has gone up all the way to the Federal Court to seek a postponement of the 1MDB trial, in order to allow the unimpeded continuation of the SRC trial.
Meanwhile, when met after the proceedings, Najib’s lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah expressed his confidence that the court would not rule for his client to enter his defence.
“I want to be silently confident. We are very confident of our defence. We are very confident that the defence ought to not be called.
“I think we have knocked out virtually everything, but I do not want to say more until the day of submission,” Shafee told members of the media.
When asked why Najib is maintaining the same defence team for both the SRC trial and the 1MDB trial which is set to start tomorrow, Shafee said it is because both cases involve identical defences.
“The choice to have the same (defence) team for the SRC and 1MDB matter is a purposeful choice. The two cases are not just similar, but have identical defences in many ways.
“Having gone through the SRC case, it would be a waste if the team were to change. We can use the knowledge from the SRC trial to do a better job in the 1MDB trial, hence why we are maintaining the same team.
“The accused (Najib) has a right to counsel under the (Federal) Constitution and he chose this (defence) team for all trials (SRC and 1MDB) as they are all interrelated,” Shafee said.
Shafee said once the 1MDB trial begins tomorrow, the defence team would be hit with a situation where they would have a heavy workload where they work on 1MDB during the day and prepare for the SRC case at night.
“During the day it is 1MDB and SRC at night. It is not a situation that any lawyer wants. It compromises the counsel as the chosen counsel would have his efficiency minimised,” Shafee said.