KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 5): The prosecution wants the High Court to give a stern warning to Datuk Seri Najib Razak to not attack its witnesses during the course of his 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial.
Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram raised the matter in the High Court before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah after Najib publicly reprimanded former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Seri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz for allegedly receiving money from 1MDB.
On Dec 29, Najib via a facebook posting urged Zeti, who is the 26th prosecution witness, to respond to a blog post that claimed her family had received over RM100 million from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, which included 1MDB funds.
It was reported that the Malaysia Today portal — which is run by blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin — had claimed in a post on Dec 28 that some of Zeti’s family members received over RM100 million from Low.
News portal Free Malaysia Today also reported that Zeti’s husband and two sons admitted to knowing about the money in statutory declarations signed in March last year.
Speaking before the judge this morning, Sri Ram said Najib as the accused in the case had "attacked" Zeti, pointing out that he knew she would be called in as a prosecution witness as a witness list was made available to him in August 2019.
Sri Ram said he did not want to file an order of committal — whereby a person found in contempt of court is ordered to be committed to jail — or find issue on the matter. However, he asked the judge to give a stern warning to the accused to not commit the same act again. “We must make it clear that his attack on our witness must stop. We do not accept it,” the senior DPP said.
Senior defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah then stood up to argue that Najib not being allowed to share his thoughts on the issue is similar to "a boxer being sent to the ring with both hands tied".
Muhammad Shafee also pointed out that he tried to apply for a gag order for his client Najib to stop the media and any person from discussing the merits of the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial; however, it was dismissed.
"But everybody else can say anything about my client. They call him a crook, a 'perompak', and nobody took action. [As for the] previous or current AG (attorney-general), both did nothing," the lawyer said.
Muhammad Shafee then asked the judge to reserve the matter for later as the defence would like to make a submission on the matter on Thursday (Jan 7), to which the judge agreed.
On a separate matter, Muhammad Shafee asked if his client would be allowed to be excused from attending tomorrow's trial hearing as Najib wanted to visit his constituents in Pekan who are badly hit by the flood.
"I have asked him whether he went there last week and he said no as there were no floods then. But the situation in the last two days, as can be seen in the media, is much worse and he would like to be there to meet his constituents. Otherwise, there will be word and questions of his non-presence," said the senior lawyer.
Justice Sequerah, however, did not allow the application and directed the trial to continue tomorrow as planned.
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