Malaysia High Court to decide on April 29 whether to amend or quash Najib's corruption charges

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (centre) leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court on April 18, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian High Court will decide on Monday (April 29) if it will quash or amend any of the charges in former prime minister Najib Razak's corruption trial.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali set the decision for 9am on Monday, after hearing submissions by both parties.

Najib's lawyer, former solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, submitted that the charges against his client for criminal breach of trust (CBT) lacked clarity and specificity.

"The prosecution has failed to specify which of the five possible types of CBT is alleged to be committed. Unless amended, the charges are indefinite and embarrassing," he said.

Defence lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin argued charges of corruption could not be tried concurrently with CBT.

Referring to the RM42 million (S$13.9 million) at the heart of Najib's charges, Datuk Kamarul Hisham said the money could not be both gratification and as money obtained via a breach of trust.

"Both versions are at odds with each other. It is an either/or situation," he said.

Ad hoc prosecutor V. Sithambaram replied that the charges were not vague, as it should be read together with supplementary documents furnished by the prosecution as per Section 51A of Criminal Procedure Code.

He added that Parliament created specific different laws for different crimes, so it was fair to bring charges under each law.

Back in April, Datuk Mohd Yusof had argued that the application to clean up the supposedly defective charges should be heard by the High Court before the start of trial.

However, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered the trial to start without delay, saying the matter could be heard once the trial was ongoing, without prejudice to the defendant.

On July 4 last year, Najib claimed trial to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of CBT linked to the 1MDB scandal.

On Aug 8, he appeared in court again for the second time and was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42 million.

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