The Court of Appeal today dismissed the appeal by former prime minister Najib Razak to remove Gopal Sri Ram as prosecutor in his 1MDB-linked cases.
A three-man bench led by justice Yaacob Md Sam upheld the Feb 15 High Court decision, saying there was no appealable error.
High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan had said Najib’s claim that Sri Ram had been involved in the investigation against him was unmeritorious.
He also said that Najib had, among others, relied on communications that took place between former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali 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.
That was Najib’s third attempt to recuse Sri Ram from prosecuting in the 1MDB audit report trial.
The first was filed in another 1MDB case before a different judge and the second was through a civil proceeding.
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.
His 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.
In the audit report case, Najib and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy are on trial for charges of tampering with the final 1MDB audit report.
Najib was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 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.