Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak fails to get 1MDB-linked trial postponed

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has also sought to push back the hearing date for another case, where he faces charges of tampering with the 1MDB audit report.
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has also sought to push back the hearing date for another case, where he faces charges of tampering with the 1MDB audit report.PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has failed in his attempt to delay one of his court trials relating to troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib's defence team had sought on Friday (Nov 15) to postpone the hearing for the corruption and money laundering case against him relating to funds obtained from SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed the request and ordered the trial to resume on Dec 3, as originally scheduled.

"I find that more than ample notice and reasonable time have been given to the applicant to prepare and to re-strategise the relevant arrangement," Justice Nazlan said. "The request for adjournment in my view cannot be sustained. Accordingly, I dismiss the entire application and the trial will therefore resume on Dec 3."

The defence team had orally applied for a postponement on the grounds that they needed more time to prepare.

On Nov 11, Justice Nazlan had ordered Najib to enter his defence on all seven charges in the SRC trial after ruling that the prosecution had proven a prima facie case against him.

Najib faces seven charges, of which three are for criminal breach of trust, one for abuse of power and three for money laundering involving SRC International funds totalling RM42 million (S$13.8 million). He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine, if convicted.

Najib has also sought to push back the hearing date for another case, where he faces charges of tampering with the 1MDB audit report.

His co-accused and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy objected to Najib's motion to delay their joint trial for tampering with the 1MDB audit report before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

 
 
 
 

Najib had filed a notice of motion on Wednesday to push the hearing, scheduled for Monday, to Jan 13 next year on the grounds that he would suffer prejudice if he and his lawyers were not allowed time to prepare for his defence in the SRC International case.

At the hearing for the motion on Friday, Arul Kanda's lawyer N. Sivananthan told High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that his client wanted to proceed as scheduled.

He said Arul Kanda had been "in a dark cloud" since he was charged a year ago.

"My client wants the trial to begin soon so he can vindicate himself. The court must look to the interests of all parties and not only one person," Datuk Sivananthan said in his submission.

DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib, who appeared for the prosecution, also objected to the postponement on the grounds that it would cast a negative perception on the judicial system.

Justice Zaini said he would rule on the postponement request on Monday.

On Dec 12, 2018, Najib was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the PAC to avoid any action against him, while Arul Kanda was charged with abetment.

Najib, who is chairman of Barisan Nasional's advisory board, was exempted from attending the court proceedings on Friday to allow him to participate in the coalition's by-election campaign in Tanjung Piai, Johor.