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Judge snubs Najib's request to skip court to attend Parliament

KUALA LUMPUR (July 15): Unlike on previous occasions, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s request today for a shorter hearing against him tomorrow to allow him to attend Parliament was rejected by the judge.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah (pictured) ruled that the 1MDB-Tanore trial will proceed as usual tomorrow.

At the end of today's proceedings, Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had informed the judge that the former Prime Minister is slotted to speak in Parliament at 2pm tomorrow.

In his application to excuse Najib’s presence in court, Shafee said courts would normally agree to put trials involving lawmakers on hold to allow them to attend Parliament. He cited previous cases against the late lawyer-politician Karpal Singh as an example.

Shafee argued that preventing an MP from carrying out his duties may tantamount to contempt of Parliament.

This prompted Collin to retort: "Are you saying I will be held in contempt of Parliament if I don’t allow this?”

Shafee then said this would be a breach of privilege which is punishable under the laws of Parliament. He cited the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 to support his argument.

Shafee applied for tomorrow’s court proceedings to be held from 9.30am to 1.30pm without a lunch break, to enable Najib to speak in Parliament at 2pm.

But the judge rejected the request, saying: "I understand that he has his duty, but I have my duty too. I say that trial continues tomorrow from 9.30am to 4.30pm with the usual lunch break.”

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