Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sri Ram to defend himself against Rosmah’s bid to disqualify him, court told

Judge tells the prosecution and defence teams to resolve the issue before hearing of the application.

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The High Court was today told that former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram will argue personally against Rosmah Mansor’s application to disqualify him as lead prosecutor in her corruption trial linked to the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustafa P Kunyalam informed the court of this during case management before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

“Sri Ram himself will lead the submissions because he said this affects him personally, so he will come and submit, that is my instruction,” Mustafa said.

Counsel Jagjit Singh, who leads Rosmah’s legal team, stood to object, saying there was no locus standi for Sri Ram to do so.

“Sri Ram cannot argue his own cause, although this is not a judge in his own cause, it affects him personally. It will become a mockery. This is highly improper and coming from an ex-judge, he should know better,” said Jagjit.

But Mustafa cited the case of Anwar Ibrahim, in which Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s appointment as a deputy public prosecutor was challenged and Shafee appeared himself to defend his appointment.

“We are guided by Anwar Ibrahim’s case. Shafee was asked to be disqualified, he submitted on his own, there was no issue, it was decided by a Federal Court judge,” he added.

Rosmah’s other lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader replied that there was no issue about the fiat in Shafee’s appointment as deputy public prosecutor.

“But here, the fiat (in Sri Ram’s appointment) is being challenged. He doesn’t have locus standi as far as the matter is concerned,” Akberdin added.

Shafee was appointed by the attorney-general by fiat (authorisation) under Section 376 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to conduct the appeal in Anwar’s case.

Zaini asked both parties to resolve the issue before the hearing of the application.

“I don’t want any technical issues raised during the hearing. Please think about this matter,” the judge said, fixing June 3 to hear Rosmah’s application.

Last Thursday, Rosmah, 69, filed two applications at the High Court seeking to nullify her entire trial in a bid to be acquitted of all three charges and seeking once again to remove Sri Ram as lead prosecutor in her trial.

The applications were filed after the Court of Appeal, on April 8, allowed her appeal to obtain a copy of Sri Ram’s appointment letter after the prosecution agreed to provide it to the defence team.

Rosmah brought the matter up for appeal after the High Court dismissed her application for Sri Ram’s appointment letter on Aug 19 last year.

The appointment letter was not dated on or before Nov 15, 2018, the day when Rosmah was charged in court, and was not signed by then attorney-general Tommy Thomas. Instead, the letter was dated July 8 last year and signed by current Attorney-General Idrus Harun.

On Feb 18, Zaini ordered Rosmah to enter her defence on all three corruption charges and fixed nine days, June 9,10,15,16,17,22, 23 and July 12 and 15, to hear the evidence from Rosmah and other defence witnesses.

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