Friday, July 1, 2022

Rosmah’s second bid to recuse judge an abuse of court process, says prosecution

Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram says the application is a non-starter as a ruling on the same bid was already handed down in December last year.

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The prosecution in Rosmah Mansor’s money laundering and tax evasion trial argues that her second bid to recuse justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan from presiding over the case is an abuse of the court process.

Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram, who is the lead prosecutor in the case, said as Zaini had already dismissed a similar application to have him removed as the trial judge, it was only a repeated attempt to achieve what had already failed last year.

“Messrs Geethan Ram submitted for the earlier recusal application and presently the same relief is being filed by a different firm, which means that next time we will be seeing the same application by another firm.

“It is an abuse of the court process because Your Lordship has already handed down the ruling on the same application in December last year. This application is a non-starter,” said Sri Ram.

This is the second time that Rosmah, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, has filed an application after Zaini, who was also the judge in her solar hybrid case trial, rejected her application on Dec 14 to recuse him from hearing the trial.

In delivering his judgment then, Zaini said he took great care to ensure that Rosmah would not be prejudiced in the money laundering case when references were made to the statements in the solar case as a judge was required to consider separately and independently the evidence against the accused.

“Any findings that I make in the solar case remain there. It is after all my solemn duty, or that of any judge, to ensure that the accused or any accused for that matter, is tried fairly as enshrined under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Rosmah’s counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin responded to the prosecution’s argument by insisting that the current application could not be said to have abused the court process as it stood on different grounds, namely risk of bias.

He said Zaini’s role in several criminal cases connected to Rosmah’s family including Najib might cause impede the judge from carrying out his judicial function without having pre-judged the issues, therefore posing a real danger of bias to his client.

“It is pertinent to acknowledge and accept that human frailty is an important factor to be considered even when it comes to those who are trained to be independent and fair-minded, because a judge is a human after all,” he added.

Firoz also said that Zaini’s involvement in multiple cases pertaining to Rosmah might expose her to a miscarriage of justice and, as a result, diminish public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.

Zaini then fixed March 21 for a decision.

Rosmah, 70, is facing 12 money laundering charges involving RM7,097,750 and five counts of failing to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).

The offences were allegedly committed at Affin Bank, Bangunan Getah Asli branch, Jalan Ampang, between Dec 4, 2013 and June 8, 2017, and at LHDN at Kompleks Bangunan Kerajaan, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim, between May 1, 2014 and May 1, 2018.

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