Prosecution tries again to delay 1MDB trial, to complete SRC case first

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 11, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial has filed a notice of motion to the High Court here yesterday to postpone the commencement of the former premier’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial — also known as the Tanore phase — pending completion of the case involving SRC.

The 1MDB or Tanore trial is scheduled to begin on Aug 19 next month.

The application hearing has been fixed on July 18 before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The bid came after Justice Sequerah on Monday refused to grant an adjournment request from the prosecution, led by Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas, to defer the RM2.28 billion Najib trial for a third time.

Besides Aug 19 to 22 and Aug 26 to 29, Justice Sequerah also fixed Sept 3 to 30, Oct 1 to 31 and Nov 4 to 7 and Nov 11 to 14 as trial dates for the 1MDB case.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Budiman Lutfi Mohamed, who is part of the prosecution team in the SRC trial, also affirmed an affidavit in support of the motion filed today in hopes of obtaining leave from the High Court to consider this motion as he stated that the prosecution intends to call another 20 witnesses in the SRC trial.

“However, it is clear that for purposes of trial planning, it is highly unlikely that the SRC trial will be completed by the last allotted date of trial on Aug 15, 2019. Hence, this application [for the motion].

“I was in court [on Monday] before Justice Sequerah and the counsel for the accused [Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah] did not object [to the prosecution’s application]. Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali [who is presiding in the SRC case] indicated he would have no objections to continuing the SRC trial on the dates scheduled for the Tanore trial. This is provided that Justice Sequerah postponed the commencement of that case,” Budiman said in the affidavit.

The DPP said in the best interest of all parties, including the witnesses called for the SRC trial, the case should be allowed to continue without any further adjournment.

He cited two reasons — firstly, that it is in the public interest that cases involving the former PM be disposed of expeditiously, and secondly, that it would be against public interest and prejudicial to the defence of the accused to have multiple trials involving him to proceed on a part-heard basis.

“This would result in an unnecessary delay in all trials,” he said, adding that these reasons constitute a “reasonable cause” within the meaning of Section 259 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“It is necessary or advisable that the commencement of the Tanore trial be postponed,” the DPP said.

Budiman further said that Thomas, who is also Public Prosecutor, has indicated to the AG’s Chambers that he is willing to bring forward any pending trials that are not the SRC or Tanore cases and not involving Najib before Justice Sequerah if the Tanore trial dates are vacated.

Najib is facing 25 counts of money laundering and graft involving RM2.28 billion that had allegedly come from 1MDB which was channelled through Tanore Finance Corp.