Thursday, December 2, 2021

Criminal court has no jurisdiction to nullify Rosmah’s corruption trial, says prosecution

Senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram says Rosmah should have filed a judicial review in a civil court for such a declaration.

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A criminal court has no jurisdiction to grant the declaration order sought by Rosmah Mansor to nullify her corruption trial over a RM1.25 billion hybrid solar project, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said Rosmah could only appeal against three types of decision by a criminal court: whether to quash a criminal charge for being groundless, acquit or convict the accused who is facing the criminal charge.

“A criminal court is not empowered to issue declarations like those by a civil court. A criminal court cannot grant declarations and the appellant (Rosmah) should have filed a judicial review in a civil court for such a declaration,” he said before a three-member bench comprising Hanipah Farikullah, M Gunalan and Hashim Hamzah.

Sri Ram raised this point in a preliminary objection on Rosmah’s appeal against the High Court’s decision on Sept 24 rejecting her application to nullify her corruption trial and to remove Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in the case.

Rosmah’s counsel Jagjit Singh countered that the issue of whether a criminal court could hear a declaratory order was being raised by the respondent (public prosecutor) for the first time, to which Sri Ram replied the issue could be brought at any time.

Sri Ram said he was prepared to argue the matter by putting in written submissions, to which Jagjit had no objection.

Hanipah then ordered both parties to file their written submissions by Nov 22 since the point raised by Sri Ram was critical and would have implications on the merit of Rosmah’s appeal.

Rosmah, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, is appealing against the High Court’s refusal to nullify her entire trial in an effort to be freed of all three charges and to remove Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in the case.

Rosmah is facing a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two charges of receiving bribes totalling RM6.5 million from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin through her former assistant Rizal Mansor as a reward for assisting Jepak Holdings to secure a RM1.25 billion project to equip 369 schools in rural Sarawak with solar hybrid power.

On Oct 4, the Court of Appeal rejected Rosmah’s application to adjourn her corruption trial while waiting for the decision on the appeal.

Rosmah, 69, then testified as a defence witness during the hearing held at the High Court on Oct 5. The trial is scheduled to resume on Dec 8.

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