Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Rosmah escapes arrest over no-show in court

A three-man bench allows her the chance to appear in court next week.

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Rosmah Mansor was a no-show in court today for the hearing of her bid to disqualify former judge Gopal Sri Ram as lead prosecutor in her corruption case involving a solar hybrid project in Sarawak, following the permission earlier granted for the release of her passport for travel to Singapore.

Rosmah, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, was supposed to return from her trip to visit her daughter by Nov 21.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench decided against issuing a warrant for her arrest, allowing her the chance to appear in court on Dec 6, The New Straits Times reports.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur had on Oct 15 allowed Rosmah’s application for the temporary release of her passport to visit her daughter who was expecting her second child.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan allowed the application on condition that Rosmah return to the country on or before Nov 21 and return the passport by Dec 6.

The prosecution raised no objections as long as the move would not interfere with her court dates.

Rosmah was one in a string of individuals facing criminal charges in court who were allowed the use of their passports for overseas travel.

Najib, who was convicted last year of seven counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds, was similarly allowed the return of his passport for travel to Singapore.

The case is currently under appeal at the Court of Appeal, with a decision to be made on Dec 8.

He is also being tried for using his position to order amendments to the final 1MDB audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and corruption, was allowed to travel to Germany for medical treatment, while lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was permitted to fly to the US to help enrol his son in an institute of higher education there.

Rosmah herself faces three charges related to the integrated hybrid solar photovoltaic system project as well as the genset/diesel maintenance and operation for 369 rural schools in Sarawak worth RM1.25 billion.

Judge Hanipah Farikullah said the panel took into account the submission by Rosmah’s lawyer, Jagjit Singh, that she had never failed to turn up in court before.

She said Jagjit had also acknowledged that Rosmah’s no-show today was in breach of the High Court’s order on Oct 15.

Earlier, Sri Ram had applied for the court to issue a warrant of arrest against Rosmah for failing to appear today.

He also asked it to revoke her bail for breaching the court order, according to Bernama.

“We are not talking about children; we are talking about adults who know what their responsibilities and liabilities are. My only point is the order is not obeyed.

“If this had been a case of a normal citizen, an Ahmad Abdul, Muniandy or Ah Chong, it would have been different. I don’t know why it should be different with Rosmah Mansor and not Ahmad Abdul.

“We have to be guided by the court order. If people are going to ignore this then what is the point of making these orders? The natural order is a warrant of arrest must be issued and bail must be cancelled,” he said, adding that Rosmah should not be treated differently from other accused persons otherwise the public would lose confidence in the courts.

Rosmah’s counsel Akberdin Abdul Kader then said they had written a letter to the Court of Appeal registry to notify the court that Rosmah would return to Malaysia on Dec 6.

Hanipah however said the letter was only given to the bench 10 minutes before the proceedings started.

Jagjit meanwhile said he would take full responsibility for Rosmah’s absence and asked for an adjournment until Monday.

He said there had been a change in his client’s travel plans after taking into consideration the newly introduced Vaccinated Travel Lane.

Hanipah then asked if Rosmah had returned to Malaysia, to which Jagjit replied that his client was still in Singapore.

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