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Najib’s bid to recuse Sri Ram from 1MDB audit tampering trial to be heard on Jan 27

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 8): Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to disqualify former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his trial for alleged tampering with the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report will be heard on Jan 27 in the High Court here.

The application, which was supposed to be heard this morning, was postponed because Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah is on medical leave due to an issue with his wrist.

The hearing was fixed when the matter came up for case management before deputy registrar Catherine Nicholas today.

Counsel Nur Syahirah Hanapiah who appeared for Najib and Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam, who attended the case management for the prosecution obtained the date from the deputy registrar.

The trial however, will resume on Jan 18 before Judge Mohamed Zaini bin Mazlan, who will then hear the application on January 27.

The hearing of Najib’s application was supposed to commence on Oct16 last year; however it was postponed due to the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) which was enforced on Oct 14 in the Klang Valley following the spike in Covid-19 cases in the country.

On June 12, Najib filed an application to recuse Sri Ram from leading the prosecution in the case.

This follows the Federal Court’s decision in October 2019 to dismiss applications by the Attorney-General's Chambers, Sri Ram and the government for leave to appeal against an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal granting Najib and Muhammad Shafee permission to make the challenge.

A three-member Federal Court bench led by Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat struck out the applications.

Sitting with Justice Tengku Maimun then were Federal Court Judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Tan Sri Idrus Harun, it was reported.

Najib, 67, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him. He is jointly charged with former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, who allegedly abetted Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

Both of them were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

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