Gopal Sri Ram may have earned a reputation for having the most number of applications to recuse him as prosecutor in several high-profile corruption cases involving Umno leaders and their close associates.
An application by Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, to remove Sri Ram as lead prosecutor in her corruption trial has been set for Sept 9, the latest such application against the former Federal Court judge.
This will be Rosmah’s second attempt at removing Sri Ram, after failing in a similar bid last year to recuse him as a senior prosecutor in a case allegedly involving millions of ringgit in bribes to secure a solar hybrid power project for rural schools in Sarawak.
Last year, Rosmah’s lawyer Jagjit Singh questioned Sri Ram’s role, saying he was already handling the 1MDB cases in which her husband is currently facing dozens of charges.
Jagjit said his client was concerned about the abuse of power in Sri Ram’s appointment.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal will hear on Sept 23 an appeal by Najib and his lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to challenge Sri Ram’s appointment in the former leader’s 1MDB case.
Shafee, who is himself accused of money laundering involving RM9.5 million, failed in an earlier bid in March to recuse Sri Ram as the prosecutor in his case.
It is alleged that Shafee had received the money from Najib for his role as a fiat prosecutor in the sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim in 2014. At that time, Sri Ram was Anwar’s defence counsel.
It is believed that at least seven attempts have been made by Najib, Rosmah and Shafee to recuse Sri Ram.
Sri Ram’s appointment as the ad hoc prosecutor for high-profile graft cases was announced by former attorney-general (AG) Tommy Thomas, who had cited Section 376 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The appointment was confirmed by Idrus Harun who replaced Thomas as AG.
Sri Ram, one of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, once served as a judge in both the Court of Appeal and Federal Court, during which time he delivered more than 800 judgments considered as leading legal authorities and precedents in Malaysian and commonwealth courts.