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Suit against Sarawak Report: Four witnesses including Sultanah Nur Zahirah to testify — Counsel

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 27): Four witnesses including the Sultanah of Terengganu, Sultanah Nur Zahirah, will testify in the defamation suit filed by the Sultanah against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and two others starting Dec 16 at the High Court here.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit over a defamatory statement in the book, ‘The Sarawak Report — The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose’ and is claiming general damages of RM100 million from each of the defendants.

The matter was disclosed by lawyer Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay, who is representing Sultanah Nur Zahirah, when contacted by Bernama after case management before Judicial Commissioner Dr John Lee Kien How @ Mohd Johan Lee, via video conferencing yesterday.

"The earlier trial dates from Oct 11 to 14 will be vacated and the court has set new trial dates, Dec 16, 17, 20 and 21. About four witnesses including Sultanah Nur Zahirah will testify," he said, adding that the subsequent case management had been set for Sept 10.

Meanwhile, counsel Mervyn Lai, representing Rewcastle-Brown, confirmed the new trial dates for the case.

On Aug 24, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by Rewcastle-Brown or Clare Louis Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise publisher, Chong Ton Sin and printer, Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd to set aside the High Court order that exempted Sultanah Nur Zahirah from testifying in the defamation suit against them.

Following the decision, Sultanah Nur Zahirah has to give her evidence to prove her defamation case against the three defendants.

On Dec 13, 2019, the High Court allowed the application by Sultanah Nur Zahirah via Order 14A of the Rules of the High Court 2012 that the suit be decided through legal issues and in this regard, Sultanah Nur Zahirah was exempted from testifying in the case.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah who filed the suit on Nov 21, 2018, alleged that the defamatory statement, among others, inferred that she was involved in corrupt practice and had interfered in Terengganu’s administration, besides using her status to influence the establishment of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which later became 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

She alleged that the statement also construed her as having helped fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, to become the adviser of TIA.

In their statement of defence, the three defendants denied making the allegation that the plaintiff was involved in corrupt practice.

Rewcastle Brown also claimed that Sarawak Report did not suggest that the plaintiff was involved in a conspiracy involving Jho Low and did not suggest that the plaintiff was involved in the government’s administration over the affairs of 1MDB.

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