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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Shafee files new evidence to recuse Sri Ram in money laundering case


Muhammad Shafee Abdullah failed in his bid to disqualify Gopal Sri Ram from prosecuting in his case in April last year.

PUTRAJAYA: Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is facing charges of laundering RM9.5 million, has filed a motion to introduce additional evidence from a former attorney-general in his bid to recuse Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution.

In his motion filed yesterday, the senior lawyer said the affidavit of Mohamed Apandi Ali would have a profound effect to assist the Court of Appeal to make its decision on his application.

He said the additional evidence was not available when the High Court last year dismissed his application to disqualify Sri Ram, a former judge.

“For the court to appreciate the material and relevant facts, the additional evidence should be accepted in the interest of justice,” he said.

The affidavit Shafee is relying on is the same document Apandi had affirmed to support former prime minsiter Najib Razak’s application to disqualify Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in the ongoing 1MDB audit report tampering trial.

That application will be heard on Oct 16 before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

In the affidavit filed in June, Apandi said Sri Ram had suggested that the fact that money was found in Najib’s accounts was enough to frame charges against him.

“I was surprised by his attitude, which exemplifies an unreasonable approach, especially coming from a former apex court judge and eminent counsel who had always preached on the right to fair trial,” he said in the affidavit.

He also said he had been taught that a good prosecutor would not charge an accused person without taking into account his statement as well as the entire structure of his proposed defence.

“So I replied by saying that in respect of the RM2.6 billion case investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), there was sufficient explanation by the accused, which had satisfied the investigation agency,” he said.

“I also said MACC had come out twice with press statements clearing Najib of wrongdoing.”

Apandi said Sri Ram had surprised him further by saying that a prosecutor was not concerned with the defence’s stand.

He claimed that Sri Ram told him a prosecutor only needed prima facie evidence of a crime, and that it was for the accused to explain the matter in court.

He also claimed Sri Ram had said that while MACC might have cleared a suspect, it was for the public prosecutor to charge the individual if witness statements showed a case.

“I had never heard of such a jaundiced view coming from the mouth of such a purportedly experienced person,” he said.

A conversation between Sri Ram and Apandi is said to have taken place at Apandi’s home in January 2018.

The Court of Appeal was scheduled to hear Shafee’s appeal today but deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz said he had not been served with a court paper on the application to introduce additional evidence.

“We also need time to respond to the application,” he said.

Bench chairman Yaacob Md Sam, who sat with Azizah Nawawi and Mohd Sofian Abdul Razak, then sent the matter for case management.

Afzainizam later told reporters that deputy registrar Darmafikri Abu Adam had fixed the motion to be heard on Jan 25 next year.

“A case management will be held on Dec 9 to set the date to hear Shafee’s appeal,” he said.

On April 23 last year, Shafee failed in his bid to disqualify Sri Ram from prosecuting in his money laundering case.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said he did not find any merit to suggest that Sri Ram was in conflict of interest or that he would be biased against Shafee.

In September 2018, Shafee claimed trial to two counts of money laundering and two counts of making false statements involving RM9.5 million received from Najib in 2013 and 2014. - FMT

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