KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 16): Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pictured) is appealing the High Court’s rejection of his application to recuse former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in four of the former premier's trials related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

His lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters today that the appeal has been filed at the Court of Appeal.

“We believe that there is overwhelming reason and strong grounds for us to seek his (Sri Ram’s) disqualification,” Shafee said.

This included the issue of conflict of interest as Sri Ram was allegedly involved in the 1MDB investigations before he became the lead prosecutor in the trials, he added.

Yesterday, High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan rejected Najib’s application to recuse Sri Ram.

In reading out his judgement, Justice Zaini said Najib's claim that Sri Ram was biased against him was "without basis and misplaced".

The judge also found that there was no evidence to support Najib's allegation that Sri Ram was involved in initial investigations into making the case against the former premier and, as such, the accusation remained "purely hypothetical".

"It is ultimately the court's duty to ensure that a trial is conducted fairly in the interest of justice. The court will ultimately come to the aid of any party that was treated unfairly, if it ever comes to that," he added.

Prior to this application, Najib had made numerous attempts to remove Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in the trials involving him but to no avail.

His application was first dismissed by Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah, who is now presiding over the 1MDB-Tanore trial, and the decision was upheld by both the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

Justice Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya rejected a separate judicial review application to remove Sri Ram made by both Najib and Shafee, who is facing four money laundering charges of up to RM9.5 million alleged to be funds from Najib.

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