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Monday, May 3, 2021

Najib’s 1MDB trial taken off due to Covid-19 again


Najib Abdul Razak’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court has been postponed again due to Covid-19.

This was because a lawyer within the former premier’s legal team had come in contact with patients who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The trial, which was initially set to resume today until Wednesday, has been vacated. The hearing will resume on May 17.

Due to the same reason, Najib's separate appeal to quash his guilty verdict in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case, initially set for Thursday this week, has also been postponed.

This is not the first time that Covid-19 has led to the vacating of Najib’s 1MDB trial, with similar reasons leading to such postponement early last year and early this year.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah confirmed that the 1MDB trial for this week has been vacated as the whole team has been put under quarantine.

“(The 1MDB trial today to Wednesday this week has been) Taken off.

“Close contact. So the (Najib’s legal) team is affected," the lawyer said when contacted by the media.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah

When contacted, a member of Najib’s legal team, Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee, revealed that not only the 1MDB trial has been vacated this week, but Najib’s SRC appeal at the Court of Appeal this Thursday as well. 

“Both the SRC appeal (at the Court of Appeal) and the 1MDB trial (at the Kuala Lumpur High Court) had to be vacated this week because a key member of our team has to undergo testing and quarantine due to significant-close contact to a number of confirmed Covid-19 patients.

“Considering the rest of the team have been working closely with him (affected lawyer), the necessary precautions need to be taken,” Farhan said.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, who is part of the 1MDB prosecution team, confirmed that the 1MDB trial this week has been taken off due to the Covid-related reason.

“May 17 onwards,” the DPP said on when the 1MDB corruption trial will resume before high court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Previously, the high court had fixed May 17 to 20, and May 24 to 27 this month for the 1MDB trial.

DPP Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul also confirmed that the SRC appeal, initially set for hearing on Thursday this week, has been taken off due to the Covid-19 related reason.

Ashrof is a member of the prosecution team, the respondent in Najib’s SRC appeal at the Court of Appeal.

In relation to the ongoing 1MDB trial, Najib is facing four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion from the troubled sovereign wealth fund.

The accused was also previously a finance minister and chairperson of 1MDB's board of advisors.

1MDB is fully owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc).

Meanwhile, later today when informing the media, an official from the Palace of Justice said the hearing of Najib's SRC appeal before the Court of Appeal has been rescheduled to May 18.

As Najib's 1MDB trial before the High Court is also fixed to resume on the same date (May 18), there is a possibility later that either the SRC appeal or the 1MDB trial would be vacated to make way for the other on that day. - Mkini

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