High Court judge furious at Najib's absence from 1MDB trial

Najib Razak is charged with 25 counts of abuse of power and money laundering involving RM2.28 billion (S$730 million) of 1MDB funds. PHOTO: NAJIB RAZAK/INSTAGRAM

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah rebuked former prime minister Najib Razak, as he was absent in court for his 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial on Thursday (Aug 19) morning.

Najib's lawyer Rahmat Hazlan informed the court that the Pekan MP, together with 114 other MPs, had been summoned to the palace to confirm their support for Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the new prime minister.

"The King wants to interview the MPs one by one. My client is scheduled to leave the World Trade Centre (WTCKL) at 10.30am. I believe that he is at WTCKL now along with the other Barisan Nasional MPs and they are in the midst of a discussion as well," Mr Rahmat said at the start of the trial on Thursday.

This riled up the judge who said that Najib should have had the courtesy to attend the court proceedings first. Justice Sequerah said the trial must proceed and asked the defence team to update the court on Najib's timing with the palace.

"The King summons the MPs, of course he has to be there. But from the newspaper report that I read, it (the interview) is going to be in batches. Your client better let me know what time he is required to be there, from what time to what time, because this case is going on. I want to know what time is his slot there," Justice Sequerah said.

The court then went on a 10-minute recess.

After the proceedings resumed, Mr Rahmat informed the judge that they were unable to provide a specific time pertaining to Najib's turn to meet the King and that he would update the court once he received information from Najib's officers.

Justice Sequerah responded that the trial must go on.

"I intend to carry on, come what may. We have lost too much time on the trial. All of us have a duty to perform. If the King summons, he (Najib) has to be there, but from what I understand, he does not have to be there the whole day," the judge said.

Justice Sequerah added that Najib could come back to the court once he was done giving his views on the premiership to the King. The court then ordered the trial to adjourn to 2.30pm.

On Wednesday, it was reported that the court allowed Najib's application for a short adjounrment of the trial to attend a critical meeting between the coalition's leaders to discuss the issue of the appointment of the new prime minister.

The judge had said that he only allowed the request due to the peculiar circumstance of the country's current situation.

Najib, 68, is charged with 25 counts of abuse of power and money laundering involving RM2.28 billion (S$730 million) of 1MDB funds.

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