Judge will deliver his decision on the recusal application after lunch.
All eyes now on Rosmah Mansor to see whether she will join her husband behind bars or walk free from her corruption case linked to the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid energy project.
8:00am: A crowd of media personnel and onlookers gather outside the High Court for Rosmah Mansor’s hearing at 9am today.
8:30am: Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram enters the High Court. Members of Rosmah’s defence team are also seen in court.
There is a heavy police presence outside the complex, with only authorised visitors allowed to enter the court’s compound.
Rela officers had cordoned off the entry into the court grounds from as early as 6.40am.
Civilians attempting to enter the compound must show proof of their court proceedings to be granted admission.
Several supporters attempted to enter the compound but were turned away. A supporter said they will wait outside the court until the end of the hearing.
Media personnel without registered passes issued by the court on Tuesday were also not allowed to enter the compound.
It is understood that these newly implemented measures are to enforce crowd control after several incidents occurred at Najib Razak’s trial last week.
8.55am: Rosmah and her counsel Jagjit Singh arrive at court. They did not use the court’s main entrance.
Rosmah takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery to await proceedings to begin. She is wearing a yellow baju kurung, shawl and a matching yellow face mask. None of her children is sighted.
Rosmah filed an application to recuse Judge Mohamed Zaini yesterday, on the grounds of the purported leaked judgment in her case.
The application will be heard this morning.
9:13am: Rosmah’s lawyers, Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader and Azrul Zulkifli Stork are seen at the court.
9.23am: Judge Zaini enters the court as proceedings begin.
9.25am: The court begins hearing Rosmah’s application to recuse Zaini from presiding over her solar corruption case.
9.28am: Jagjit seeks for today’s verdict to be adjourned to allow the defence team to file a response to the prosecution’s written submissions.
He says the defence team was only served with a copy of the prosecution’s reply to the recusal this morning.
9.33am: Deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram objects against the bid to adjourn today’s verdict.
He describes the recusal application as devoid of merit, speculative in nature and done in bad faith.
Sri Ram says that the purported leaked judgment was not even a written judgment at all, pointing out that the document is a research and opinion write-up prepared by the Research Unit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
“The application is based on hearsay, entirely,” he says, adding there is no credible and cogent evidence to back it up.
He adds that the prosecution is ready to proceed with the hearing today.
Zaini then asked Jagjit whose idea was it to file the recusal application.
Zaini: Was it your idea? (to Jagjit) Was it your idea? (to Akberdin).
The lawyers replied: “We act on instruction”.
Zaini quipped: I don’t need to ask Azrul.
9.42am: Zaini says that the court is ready to hear the recusal bid today.
He indicates he is not inclined to adjourn the verdict today, pointing out that he himself spent a large part of Merdeka Day yesterday reading the application filed a day earlier.
“Having said that, you have filed a certificate of urgency. You should be ready. You said there is a need to file a reply. I have read it (entire recusal application and other related documents),” Zaini says.
The judge notes that Rosmah’s legal team had filed a certificate of urgency for the recusal hearing to be heard as soon as possible, thus, he set today itself to hear the bid.
Zaini says that he wants the defence to submit on the application this morning.
“You cited 15 grounds for this application to be heard quickly.”
Jagjit says that he needs some time to gather his thoughts and prepare to submit.
“Impress me with your research. I will wait for you, let me know when you are ready,” says the judge before retreating into his chambers.
The court stands down to allow the defence to prepare.
10:20am: Rosmah’s son Norashman Najib enters the courtroom wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt and sits next to his mother.
10.32am: Hearing of the recusal bid against Zaini resumes.
10.40am: Jagjit denies the prosecution’s assertion that the recusal bid is based on hearsay evidence.
The lawyer says this is because the court had previously lodged a police report over the alleged leaked judgment incident, and that the Sentul district police chief was reported confirming the authorities are investigating the matter under the Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code.
10.43am: Jagjit orally submits that the law does not require an applicant to produce cogent evidence to prove bias on the part of the judge.
He says they only produce what they can and leave it to court to determine whether there is a danger of bias.
He submits that the test is whether there is one.
10.50am: Jagjit claims that dark clouds have descended on the judiciary since Aug 23.
He says this was similar to what happened in 1988, referring to the removal of the then chief justice Salleh Abbas, historically known as the judicial crisis.
Jagjit claims that dark clouds descended again on Aug 23 this year, possibly referring to the Federal Court’s dismissal of the SRC appeal by Najib.
11am: Jagjit continues his submission that trial judges must be able to discharge their duties impartially while free from outside influence.
He says that judicial independence ensures a judge can assess evidence, apply the law, and decide the outcome of a case without regard to parties, in order to uphold the law.
“I have full confidence Your Lordship (Mohamed Zaini Mazlan) would not be influenced by this, but it (risk of bias) still exists, hence the purpose of this (recusal) application,” Jagjit submits.
11.13am: Jagjit submits there is no averment from the prosecution that the alleged leaked judgment linked to Rosmah’s solar case were fake documents.
He speaks about the “leaked” documents, which he described as “disturbing” when it appeared on social media.
“But it has come out, we cannot hide it under a coconut shell,” he said.
Jagjit says the two posts on Malaysia Today are widespread on social media and have found its way on the length and breadth of the country.
“There is no argument by the prosecution to say that these are fake documents,” he adds.
11:29am: Jagjit goes into the microscopics of the document, which was blown up on a screen in the court room. He says the date of task given on the document is June 24.
“But who gave the task? Obviously, it must have been given by a person of authority to someone junior,” he says.
Jagjit says on the paper itself it is stated that this document has been prepared for his lordship Justice Zaini.
“Then the one that merely nails it…it says it has been prepared for his lordship on July 7. That is the date your lordship was supposed to deliver the decision in this case (before the rescheduling to Sept 1).
“I ask myself, ‘what’s happening? what’s happening?!’ when I read the document on Monday,” Jagjit says.
He also points out in the document that says, “For your lordship’s consideration” and “We are of the humble opinion”.
“‘We’ means more than one person. Who are the ‘we’? Let’s get them here right now!” Jagjit thunders.
11:39am: Rosmah’s daughter Nooryana Najwa arrives in court and joins her brother and mother sitting on the bench at the public gallery.
11:40am: Jagjit further submits that the judge should recuse himself to protect the integrity of the court.
“Seeing this, you should say ‘this is trash, take it away from me’,” Jagjit adds.
12:01pm: An exchange of words ensues between Zaini and Jagjit on what the documents really meant.
“Since you want to call a spade a garden equipment, let’s just get to the point. What do you call these documents?” asks the judge.
Jagjit replies, to put it bluntly and simply, it has been prepared at the request and behest of someone of authority.
Zaini: Answer my question. What do you call these two documents?
Jagjit: I cannot label them but they are incriminating.
Zaini: What do you call your submission? What is the aim of your written submission?
Jagjit: To persuade your lordship. But this (the document) cannot persuade your lordship because you have to make an independent mind!
The judge then pressed on Jagjit as to what the documents were and Jagjit again, said he could not answer.
“It is in your affidavit, you say it (the document) is my judgment. Having heard you now, I’m confused,” Zaini said.
The two went back and forth for a time until Zaini ponders, “Are you saying these are draft judgment prepared for me?”
Jagjit says it appears to be so.
“I’m glad we can clarify that,” Justice Zaini replied.
He further clarified with the counsel that his (Jagjit) argument is that the trial judge should only be furnished with submissions by the prosecution and the defence and no one else should be furnishing any opinion for the judge.
Zaini: Do you see these two documents as opinion or a draft judgment?
Jagjit: To me it doesn’t seem like an opinion but it is a draft judgment written by a third party.
Zaini: Are you insinuating that I would therefore use the draft judgment (in my decision)?
Jagjit: That’s where the real danger of bias comes in…the perception.
Zaini: I think I understand where your angle is.
12.31pm: Sri Ram orally submits that Malaysia Today – the blog from which the two alleged leak judgments of Rosmah’s case were uploaded to – is not a credible source.
“In my submission, the writer of the articles (on the blog) is a fugitive from justice hiding somewhere in the United Kingdom.
“Secondly, he is a rogue journalist. Thirdly, his views alter according to how much he is paid,” Sri Ram contends.
12.42pm: “On the rogue writer (contention by the prosecution), whatever a man may be, no matter how evil a man can be, there is some goodness in him. That is what our religion teaches us.
“He may be a rogue writer, but are these documents fabricated?” Jagjit asks rhetorically before the court.
12.35pm: Sri Ram orally submits that opinion write-ups by the court’s research units do not jeopardise judicial integrity in making judgments.
He points out that it is a long-standing practice in Commonwealth nations that these research unit write-ups are merely to help judges when researching cases.
Sri Ram contends that at the end of the day, the research units’ write-ups are at best opinions of the unit members who wrote them and that it is still up to the judge to arrive at the actual decision of a case.
Earlier Jagjit describes the “leaked judgment” by the research unit as “trash”.
“That is the most apt description for Raja Petra’s post…trash. And that is what their application is based on.
“Even if your lordship requested for the opinion written by the research unit, even if you had gone through it and do your judgment, it would have been perfectly ordinary,” Sri Ram adds.
Sri Ram, who is a former Federal Court judge, shares that during his time, the Chief Justice then had suggested for him to have his own research team.
He says he rejected the idea they would just get in his way.
“But that’s just my way. Each judge has his own way,” Sri Ram adds.
He says the prosecution respectfully calls for the court to dismiss the application and for Justice Zaini to deliver his judgment in Rosmah’s case.
12:50pm: “It’s 12.50pm. I’m sure everyone is famished. I will deliver my decision (on the recusal application) after lunch,” Justice Zaini says.
Court stands down.