Malaysia Federal Court hears appeals from Najib's legal team

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court on April 3, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak's legal team went back to court on Thursday (April 4) with three appeals on his corruption case regarding SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) .

Najib pleaded not guilty on Wednesday (April 3) to seven charges at the start of his much-anticipated trial linked to the alleged plundering of state fund 1MDB in a financial scandal that shocked the world.

He is accused of receiving RM42 million (S$14 million) for obtaining a government guarantee for a RM4 billion loan taken up by SRC International - a firm set up as a coal supply business.

The sum is a fraction of the US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) investigators allege made its way into his personal bank accounts. Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated.

The SRC trial, which started on Wednesday, is the first of four trials faced by Najib, who faces a total of 42 charges of corruption and money laundering linked to 1MDB.

The SRC trial resumes on April 15.

His lawyer Shafee Abdullah appealed at Malaysia's federal court on Thursday to have a gag order that would prevent the media and public from discussing the case, to request additional documents, and on the attorney-general's move to withdraw a certificate transferring seven charges from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

Meanwhile the prosecution, led by attorney-general Tommy Thomas appealed to withhold producing the letter of appointment for one of its ad hoc prosecutors, Sulaiman Abdullah.

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The SRC trial was originally scheduled to begin in February, but these appeals filed by Najib's defence team over procedural matters have caused the case to be postponed several times.

Najib's lawyer Shafee even managed to get the appeal hearing pushed back after he pleaded that his pet dog had injured his arm.

The appeals have been criticised by the public as a tactic to delay the trial.

On Thursday, Shafee requested for "more time" to deliberate the appeals given the "manner in which the trial is rushed".

Najib was charged for the SRC case in July last year.

The presiding judge, Chief Justice Richard Malanjum, heard three of the four appeals, and slated the fourth appeal to be heard on Friday.

A decision is likely to be reached at a later date.

Najib faces another trial for money-laundering and corruption over RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds, which has been postponed to May to make way for the SRC case.

He also has court dates in July for criminal breach of trust charges involving RM6.6 billion worth of government payments made to an Abu Dhabi fund and Chinese companies, alongside former treasury secretary-general Irwan Serigar.

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