High Court dismisses Rosmah’s bid to recuse judge again

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Rosmah Mansor has failed again to recuse High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan from presiding over her money laundering and tax evasion trial.

Devan Manuel

This is the second time the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak filed the application after Zaini, who is also the same judge in Rosmah’s solar hybrid case trial, had rejected Rosmah’s application last December 14 to recuse him from hearing the trial.

Zaini, in dismissing the application, said the second application is considerably based on the same grounds as the first, namely the fact that he is the presiding judge in Rosmah’s solar hybrid case trial.

The judge said the applicant, however, has now sought to include two other cases that he presided over, namely the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) forfeiture case where the applicant was one of the respondents and the 1MDB audit case.

“What the applicant had done in including these two additional cases was to add more colour to her application,” he said.

“It is, however, in essence, the grounds submitted are similar to the first application as they pertain to my involvement and decisions made in these cases.

“I must add that I was bemused that the applicant had mentioned the 1MDB forfeiture and 1MDB audit cases in her application.

“I had, in the 1MDB forfeiture case, dismissed the prosecution’s attempt to forfeit properties belonging to her.

“The 1MDB audit case, on the other hand, does not concern the applicant at all.

“I am of the opinion that the applicant is estopped from litigating again the application for recusal. The doctrine of res judicata applies in this second application.”

Zaini said the initial arguments that the applicant has put forward in respect of the 1MDB forfeiture and 1MDB audit cases could have been canvassed in the first application as they were well within the applicant’s knowledge at the time when the first application was made.

“Public interest demands that there must be a finality to litigation and parties should not be allowed to litigate the same issue over and over again. The applicant’s application is, therefore, dismissed,” he said.

However, Zaini granted an application by Rosmah’s counsel, Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, to stay the money laundering trial, which was initially scheduled for Wednesday, pending the disposal of Rosmah’s appeal on today’s decision at the Court of Appeal.

“The trial is, therefore, vacated,” said the judge after the prosecution did not object to the stay application.

Rosmah’s appeal over the first failed recusal bid is still pending before the Court of Appeal. The appeal has been fixed for case management on May 19.

Zaini also fixed May 24 for mention of Rosmah’s bid to disqualify former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram from acting as the lead prosecutor in her money laundering case.

Rosmah, 70, is facing 12 money laundering charges involving RM7,097,750 and five counts of failure to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).

The offences were allegedly committed at Affin Bank Berhad, Bangunan Getah Asli branch, Jalan Ampang, here, between December 4, 2013 and June 8, 2017, and at LHDN at Kompleks Bangunan Kerajaan, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim, Kuala Lumpur, between May 1, 2014 and May 1, 2018