Najib's lawyers calls for Jho Low to be produced in court

In a  photo taken on Aug 28, former prime minister Najib Razak talks to his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during a break at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
In a photo taken on Aug 28, former prime minister Najib Razak talks to his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during a break at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - The defence team of former Malaysian premier Najib Razak on Tuesday (Sept 24) called for fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho to be produced in court as soon as possible so that the court can determine the truth about Najib’s involvement in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)

“I would like to invite that Jho Low be produced as soon as possible so that we could determine the truth,” said Najib’s counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, according to Bernama news agency. Financier Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, is widely known as Jho Low.

“Natural justice is totally removed because I have no chance of cross-examining Jho Low,” Shafee added. He made submissions to the court in a hearsay application against the evidence of former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

Datuk Shahrol took the stand on Monday as the ninth prosecution witness in Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of 1MDB funds.

Mr Shahrol had testified to a close relationship between Najib and Low, but Shafee said it was all “hearsay” since nobody could prove what the witness said because Jho Low has absconded. Shafee submitted that hearsay evidence, in general, could not be admissible unless Low was brought to court.

”The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has said not more than a month ago that they got Jho Low and they know exactly where he is. The prime minister and deputy prime minister said they must get Jho Low,” he said.

Shafee pointed to the testimony of the eighth witness, Mr Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who was Najib’s former special officer, and who had labelled Low as a “master manipulator”.

 
 
 
 

The defence has distanced Najib from Low, with Shafee telling reporters at the start of the trial last month that Low had “misled” Najib over 1MDB, a state fund parked under the finance ministry.

Najib was Malaysia’s prime minister, finance minister and chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers when the scandal broke in mid-2015.

Najib faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion (S$760 million) from 1MDB funds, besides 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount, reported Bernama.

Mr Shahrol in his testimony on Tuesday said Najib cannot push the blame for the company’s missing money on the advisers, the Malay Mail online news reported.

Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram had asked Mr Shahrol for his response to Najib’s claim: “The accused says that if anything went wrong with 1MDB, it will fall on (the) board of advisers for not advising him properly.”

Mr Shahrol replied, as reported: “According to the Articles of Association, the board and management must have taken approval from the prime minister for any investment decisions and even any appointments to board of advisers and board of directors.”

The trial continues, with Mr Shahrol taking the stand.