Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor has failed in her bid to recuse High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan from presiding over her second trial involving 17 money laundering and tax evasion charges to the tune of RM7 million.
Zaini is also presiding over Rosmah’s ongoing graft trial linked to the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project for rural schools in Sarawak.
In dismissing her application, Zaini said as a judge, he is required to independently evaluate all evidence against her and not mix findings in her other cases.
He said any findings he made in the solar hybrid case remains there.
In his brief judgement, the judge said the accused’s primary concern pertains to her statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), recorded under Section 32 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amlatfapuaa).
He said the accused’s contention that she may be greatly prejudiced, as the court may possibly make a comparison between the statement and her defence was unfounded.
He said when he allowed the prosecution to admit the statement in the solar hybrid case for purposes of impeaching Rosmah, he had already ruled that no questions were to be asked pertaining to the facts of the money laundering case.
“I took great care to ensure that the accused would not be prejudiced in the Amla (money laundering) case when references are made to the statement in the solar case,” the judge said.
He added that the prosecution had during the course of submissions, convinced the court that the issues it intended to adduce in relation to the statement in the solar hybrid case have no bearing on the issues in the money laundering case.
The statement which was recorded during the investigations is being used by the prosecution in its attempt to impeach Rosmah’s credibility following contradictions in her testimony in the solar hybrid trial.
Zaini said it is his solemn duty and that of any judge, to ensure that the accused or any accused is tried fairly as enshrined under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.
“The Federal Court in the PP v Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s case had aptly held that a judge unlike jurors, is trained in law to remain impartial despite reading facts relating to a case,” he said.
The money laundering trial will commence on Jan 12, next year.
Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram conducted the prosecution while Rosmah was represented by lawyer Geethan Ram Vincent.
Rosmah had filed the application for Zaini’s recusal citing grounds that Zaini is currently presiding over her solar hybrid graft trial and has already ordered her to enter her defence.
Rosmah is facing 12 money laundering charges amounting to about RM7 million and five counts of failing to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board.