Tommy Thomas: Sri Ram given power in 2018 to prosecute all cases

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Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram was appointed senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) to conduct all criminal trials, including Rosmah Mansor’s corruption case, said former attorney-general Tommy Thomas.

Thomas said Sri Ram had all the powers of a public prosecutor as his appointment was made under Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

“Since Sri Ram was under my general control and direction, and was in a position to exercise all the powers of the public prosecutor, I personally authorised him to conduct other prosecutions as well,” he said in an affidavit filed to dismiss Rosmah’s application to disqualify Sri Ram and declare her trial a nullity.

Thomas was appointed as AG on June 4, 2018, but resigned on Feb 28 last year.

In the affidavit filed in the High Court here today and sighted by FMT, Thomas said as AG he was also the public prosecutor under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 376(1) of the CPC.

Thomas said that on Aug 30, 2018, he appointed Sri Ram as senior DPP to handle prosecutions relating to what has come to be known as the “1MDB scandals”.

He pointed out that former prime minister Najib Razak, who is facing 25 charges of corruption and money laundering in the alleged transfer of 1MDB funds into his accounts, had applied to disqualify Sri Ram.

However, the Federal Court in August 2019 ruled that the appointment was valid.

Thomas said he then asked Sri Ram to conduct other prosecutions as well, including against Rosmah for corruption and money laundering.

“The contention that I had to give Sri Ram another letter in writing (to prosecute in Rosmah’s corruption case) is a legal fallacy,” he said.

Thomas said Rosmah’s application to remove Sri Ram was made in bad faith as she had not raised any issues concerning his appointment at the start of the trial, as otherwise he would have confirmed the former judge’s authority while still in office.

“If Sri Ram did not have my authority, which was confirmed by my successor (Idrus Harun), would the team of public prosecutors permanently employed at the AGC accept and work under his leadership on behalf of the prosecution?” he asked.

Rosmah’s application is scheduled to be heard before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan on June 3.

In the application filed on May 6, Rosmah, who has been ordered to enter her defence, wants the proceedings held in the High Court so far to be declared a nullity.

She is also seeking a declaration that Sri Ram’s appointment to prosecute her case was illegal and irregular.

A further declaration that Rosmah is applying for is that she be acquitted of all charges should the court rule that the proceeding was a mistrial.

The applications were filed after the Court of Appeal ruled last month that Sri Ram’s appointment letter was not dated on or before Nov 15, 2018, the day when Rosmah was charged in court, and was not signed by Thomas.

Judge Suraya Othman, who chaired the three-member bench, said the letter was dated July 8, 2020 – 19 months after Rosmah was charged – and was signed by (the current AG) Idrus.

Rosmah is standing trial on one charge of allegedly soliciting RM187.5 million from a contractor (Saidi Abang Samsudin) in the Sarawak schools’ solar supply project, as well as two charges over claims she received RM6.5 million from Saidi.

It was alleged that the money was meant to help Saidi’s company, Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to secure the RM1.25 billion project.

The defence case is scheduled to be heard on June 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23, and July 12 and 15. – FMT