KUALA LUMPUR (April 1): High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said he is prepared to vacate the dates he had fixed for Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial to accommodate the former Prime Minister's SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.
However, Sequerah said this is subject to the availability of High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who is presiding the SRC case, to take in those dates, which are from April 15 to May 3.
Sequerah, however, indicated to the prosecution and Najib's lawyers that the 1MDB case should start in early May.
"I do not want the case fixed for hearing in three months’ time as it should start next month," he said.
As a result, Sequerah fixed this Friday afternoon for parties to update the outcome of the scheduled SRC hearing that is scheduled to start this Wednesday.
Today was fixed for case management for the prosecution to hand over witness statements to the defence with regards to the 1MDB case.
Appointed prosecutor and former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told the court the prosecution would be calling 57 witnesses to the 1MDB case.
Sri Ram also told Sequerah he had been asked to inform this court that Attorney General Tommy Thomas had written to the Chief Judge of Malaya, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, saying the prosecution in the SRC case would like to ask some dates fixed for the 1MDB trial to be accommodated to Nazlan.
This, he said, is in view of the fact that the SRC trial will begin on Wednesday and it would become part heard, and that the AG felt that some more days should be allocated for that case to proceed further.
Sri Ram also showed Zaharah's reply to the AG that she will leave it to Sequerah to make a decision on the matter.
This led to Najib's lawyer Havinderjit Singh saying that the defence would be objecting to the change of dates as it has filed a review of the Federal Court's decision last Wednesday that lifted the stay imposed on the SRC trial to begin.
"We do not know if the (SRC trial) will start on Wednesday, following the review application," the lawyer said.
"For me, this case (1MDB) is also a priority," Sri Ram told the court.
Sequerah said he also does not know if Nazlan could accommodate those days from April 15 to May 3, and for this reason he fixed the Friday case management date for parties to update him.
Najib is facing 21 charges of money laundering and four charges of abuse of power in relation to the RM2.28 billion 1MDB fund.
Besides this 1MDB trial, Sequerah is also presiding over Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's case involving two counts of money laundering and two counts of alleged violation of the Income Tax Act for making false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board by not including the RM9.5 million in his tax filing for 2013 and 2014.
The hearing for the case begins on May 5 and the judge indicated he was willing to let the 1MDB case take precedence over Shafee's case.