Appeal court dismisses application to postpone 1MDB trial

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PUTRAJAYA (Aug 5): The Court of Appeal has today dismissed an application by the prosecution and defence to postpone former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's trial on alleged laundering of RM2.28 billion worth of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) money from Tanore Finance Corp because "there is no miscarriage of justice" in the decision to not grant the postponement.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Aug 19. Today, a three-member bench led by Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli said this is not a fit and proper case for appellate intervention.

Justice Abdul Rahman said the court can only interfere if there is miscarriage of justice. "In this appeal, we are not persuaded that the wrong principle of the law was applied in the court's refusal to grant adjournment. Hence, there is no miscarriage of justice. The (trial) judge has given reasons in not granting the postponement and these are valid reasons.

"This follows the High Court being prepared to accommodate the parties' schedules when necessary. The parties [prosecution and defence] are at liberty to apply [for postponement before the trial judge] should the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial fails to conclude," the Court of Appeal ruled.

In the ongoing SRC trial, Najib faces seven charges — three for criminal breach of trust, one for abuse of power and three for money laundering involving RM42 million worth of SRC funds.

The appeal court also quoted High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah's judgement as another reason to dismiss the appeal. The appellate court said Justice Sequerah ruled that the prosecution cannot institute multiple charges and that if the prosecution finds that the first case cannot conclude first, they can apply for a postponement for the other trials.

"The courts cannot be utilised as a mere repository for criminal cases," said Justice Abdul Rahman when he read out Justice Sequerah's judgment.

The other judges involved in the Court of Appeal's unanimous decision are Justices Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who appeared for the prosecution, said they would consider whether to appeal the decision. Later, Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhammad Izzat Fauzan confirmed to reporters the Attorney-General's Chambers will file an appeal on today's decision.

Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the appellate court that he has instructions to appeal today's decision, and wanted to know if what the court had read constitute the grounds for today's decision.

Justice Abdul Rahman replied yes to Muhammad Shafee's query.

Najib is charged with 21 counts of money laundering and four for abuse of power involving RM2.28 billion allegedly from 1MDB funds that was channelled from Tanore to his personal bank account.

It was reported on July 19 that in an unprecedented development, both the prosecution and defence filed separate appeals to the appellate court following Justice Sequerah's decision to not allow the postponement of the 1MDB trial.

Najib's SRC trial continues this afternoon at the High Court here before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. The trial involves cross-examination of former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping.

See also:
Both prosecution and Najib's defence team file appeal to delay 1MDB trial
Judge rejects AG's bid to delay Najib's main 1MDB trial, hearing to start on Aug 19