Friday, February 26, 2021

Najib files appeal against court’s refusal to disqualify Sri Ram

His lawyer says they have strong grounds to appeal against the High Court's decision.

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Former prime minister Najib Razak has filed an appeal against the High Court decision dismissing his bid to remove former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his ongoing trial for allegedly tampering with the 1MDB audit report.

Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters that the notice of appeal was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

“The application was dismissed by the High Court judge yesterday. We were of the opinion that we should file the appeal because we had many reasons showing that Sri Ram’s disqualification was almost inevitable.

“One of the issues was regarding the disclosure made by former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali in his affidavit regarding to a conversation between Sri Ram and himself, which was not rebutted but confirmed by the latter.

“If that is the case, it would be misconduct on the part of the prosecutors,” he said after the 1MDB trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

In his affidavit, Apandi claimed that there had been communication between him and Sri Ram in which the latter asked him to consider charging Najib in court.

Shafee said they were also appealing as Sri Ram’s involvement in the 1MDB-related case was not merely as a prosecutor but also as an investigator, as alleged in former attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ memoir, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”.

“This was not allowed. The prosecution said they were not involved in the investigation but in Tommy’s book, he claimed that he specifically requested a deputy public prosecutor to be involved in the investigation.

“So for both reasons, we felt that we had very strong reasons to appeal,” Shafee said.

Yesterday, judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan rejected Najib’s application to recuse Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his trials related to the 1MDB audit report.

Zaini in his grounds said the court found Najib’s allegation that Sri Ram had been involved in the investigation against him unmeritorious.

The judge added that Najib had, among others, relied on the communications that took place between Apandi and Sri Ram as proof of the latter’s bias towards him, and that the applicant’s apprehension of Sri Ram’s bias was without basis and misplaced.

The trial will resume on Feb 22.

Najib, 67, and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, 45, are on trial for charges of tampering with the 1MDB audit report.

The Pekan MP was charged with using his position to order amendments to the final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to prevent any action taken against him, while Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

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