Rosmah's counsels say Sri Ram should voluntarily withdraw as prosecutor before defence case begins

KUALA LUMPUR (April 13): Former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram should voluntarily withdraw from continuing in prosecuting Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor (pictured) before the start of her defence case in June, say her counsels.

Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader, who is one of the counsels for the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, said the defence had a look at the former top judge's appointment letter given by the prosecution as instructed by the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

“Our decision following yesterday's meeting is that we feel he should voluntarily withdraw before the start of our client's defence. Otherwise, we will apply to court in due course,” he told when contacted.

He, however, declined to specify their next course of action should Sri Ram decline to withdraw from the case.

High Court judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan had on Feb 18 ordered Rosmah to enter her defence after finding a prima facie case against her graft charges and fixed nine days beginning June 9 to hear her defence.

She had informed the court that she will testify under oath from the witness stand.

Rosmah, 69, is charged with soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe out of a total of RM1.25 billion project that was awarded to then Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin between January and April 2016 through her aide Datuk Rizal Mansor.

She also faces two charges of receiving a total of RM6.5 million — RM1.5 million and RM5 million from Saidi between Dec 20, 2016 and Sept 7, 2017 at her official residence in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya and also her private residence in Jalan Langgak Duta.

Rosmah's trial began on Feb 4, 2020 with 23 prosecution witnesses testifying.

On Thursday, a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Justice Datuk Suraya Othman has asked the prosecution to produce Sri Ram's letter of appointment to Rosmah's defence team within three days.

This follows Rosmah's appeal seeking Sri Ram's appointment letter from the prosecution. Her defence has claimed that the former top judge was supposed to only prosecute in 1Malaysia Development Bhd cases.

Justice Zaini dismissed the application resulting in last Thursday's appeal at the Court of Appeal.

Justice Suraya along with Datuk Abu Bakar Jais and Datuk Ghazali Cha reviewed Sri Ram's employment letter, where they found that Sri Ram's appointment letter was not dated on or before Nov 15, 2018, when Rosmah was first charged and when Tan Sri Tommy Thomas was the Attorney-General.

“There was indeed a letter pertaining to the appointment of Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to conduct the prosecution of the appellant (Rosmah) but that letter was dated on July 8, 2020, that is after the appellant was charged in court and that letter was signed by the present AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun.

"On that score, two of the three conditions which [Rosmah's defence] had asked for have not been met," she said after the bench collectively evaluated the document.

Meanwhile, DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib told, when contacted, that Sri Ram will continue to appear for the prosecution during Rosmah's defence stage as his appointment is still intact, and will respond to whatever action Rosmah's defence may initiate against the former top judge.

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