1MDB audit tampering trial proceeds after defence counsel cleared of Covid-19

KUALA LUMPUR (June 16): The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report tampering trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy has resumed today, after one member of Najib's defence team was cleared of Covid-19.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said it turned out that his associate, Rahmat Hazlan, only had the flu.

"His symptoms had shown a heavy bout of influenza but he has been cleared [of Covid-19]," he told High Court judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

"I take your word for it, glad to hear this,” the judge replied.

The trial then resumed with the cross-examination of the prosecution witness Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, the former chief secretary to the government.

Yesterday, Shafee had requested a postponement of the trial as Rahmat came down with a high fever and took a test for Covid-19. Should the test have come out positive, the trial may have to be postponed even further as those in contact with him would have to be quarantined.

Shafee said he would also take the test yesterday as a precautionary measure, claiming that it would be the sixth time he had gone through screening for Covid-19.

This is the second time Shafee has requested a postponement of Najib's trial due to possible Covid-19 exposure fears.

In March, Shafee requested to postpone the 1MDB-Tanore trial as he was in proximity to a person who was being tested for Covid-19.

At the time, the whole 1MDB defence team was instructed to self-quarantine as there was a risk that the virus could spread among them.

In the 1MDB audit tampering trial, Najib is charged with abuse of power as a public officer in his capacity as prime minister and finance minister in altering the 1MDB audit report which was to be tabled to the Public Accounts Committee in 2018. This was so that no action could be taken against him by Parliament.

Meanwhile, Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib.

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