Court gives Rosmah another chance though the lead counsel had strongly urged the court to issue an arrest warrant against her for breaching a court order.
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was supposed to return from her trip to Singapore by Nov 21, but there was no sign of her in the Kuala Lumpur Court of Appeal today.
She was supposed to appear for the hearing of her appeal to disqualify Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in her corruption case and to annul the trial proceedings.
Although Sri Ram had strongly urged the court to issue an arrest warrant against her for breaching a court order, a three-man bench led by judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah unanimously decided to give Rosmah a chance and exercised its discretion to withhold issuing a warrant.
The court also allowed for the proceeding today to be adjourned to Monday as requested by Rosmah’s counsel Datuk Jagjit Singh as his client has not returned to Malaysia.
“The court is using its discretion to withhold the arrest warrant. Moreover, she (Rosmah) has never been absent from the High Court proceedings,” the judge said.
Hanipah had said the panel also noted the explanation of Rosmah’s lawyer, Datuk Jagjit Singh, that her absence was due to his oversight, and that she will be given the opportunity to appear in the Court of Appeal on Monday at 9am.
Other judges on the panel were Datuk M Gunalan and Datuk Hashim Hamzah.
At the onset of the proceeding, Hanipah pointed out that she did not see Rosmah in court.
She said the court did not receive any notice for a further extension on Rosmah’s travel period.
Hanipah said the bench was only given a letter from Rosmah’s counsel notifying that she will be returning to Malaysia on Dec 6 and the letter was only tendered to the court 10 minutes before the proceeding today started.
“The letter states that your client will return on Dec 6 when clearly the court order says that she must return by Nov 21.
“We are going by the court order. If there is a reason or further extension, you have to state it to the court,” she said.
Jagjit then explained that there was a change in his client’s travel plans considering the change in the quarantine rules under the new Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore.
“I take full responsibility on this,” Jagjit said, giving his word that his client would appear before the court on Monday.
Sri Ram argued Rosmah should not be treated differently from other accused persons or the public will lose confidence in the courts.
“We are not talking about children, we are talking about adults who know what their responsibilities and liabilities are.
“My only point is the order is not obeyed. If this had been a case of a normal citizen, an Ahmad Bin Abdul, Muniandy or Ah Chong, it would have been different. I don’t know why it should be different with Rosmah Binti Mansor.
“We have to be guided by the court order. If people are going to ignore this then what is the point of making these orders. The natural order is a warrant of arrest must be issued and bail must be cancelled,” he said.
On October 15, the High Court had allowed Rosmah’s application for her passport to be temporarily released to her from October 15 until December 6 to allow her to travel to Singapore, but laid the strict conditions for Rosmah to only leave for Singapore from October 22 and stressing that she must return to Malaysia by November 21.
Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan allowed her to hold on to the document from Oct 22 and that she must return to Malaysia by Nov 21 and surrender the passport to the court by Dec 6.
On Sept 24, the court denied Rosmah’s bid to disqualify Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in her corruption case involving a project to provide solar hybrid energy for rural schools in Sarawak and to annul the ongoing trial proceedings.
Zaini, in his judgement said Sri Ram’s appointment by then Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas was validly done under Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
He had on the same day dismissed an application by Rosmah’s lawyers for a stay of the trial pending the appeal over the decision.
Rosmah, the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had applied to go to Singapore where her daughter Nooryana Najwa lives in order to be there for the latter’s delivery of her second child.
On November 29, Nooryana Najwa posted a photo on Facebook showing her newborn child being held by Najib with Rosmah by his side.
The boy had been born on Nov 1, although Najib postponed his visit to Singapore to campaign for Umno/BN in the recent Malacca state elections.
Najib is a convicted felon who was sentenced to 12 years in jail, and an Appeals Court verdict on his SRC International corruption conviction is due on Dec 8.
Rosmah is facing three charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009.
In the first charge, she is accused of soliciting RM187.5 million in bribes from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to help secure an Education Ministry project.
The RM1.25 billion project was intended to supply power to 369 rural schools in Sarawak using a combination of solar and diesel energy.
In the second and third charges, she is accused of receiving RM1.5 million and RM5 million in bribes, respectively, as a reward for securing the project.