Saturday, July 2, 2022

Bid to call Arul Kanda as witness postponed after ‘Sean Connery’-sounding lawyer falls ill

Another of Najib's lawyers says Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has developed a fever and sore throat.

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The hearing of the prosecution’s application to call Arul Kanda Kandasamy as a witness in the 1MDB audit report tampering trial has been postponed to Friday as Najib Razak’s lead defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is unwell.

Another lawyer for Najib, Rahmat Hazlan, informed the High Court today that Shafee had developed a high fever and sore throat.

“When he (Shafee) called me this morning, he sounded like Sean Connery. He has not gotten to the clinic yet but he is going to the clinic and we will send the MC (medical certificate) to the court once he obtains it,” said Rahmat.

Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan meanwhile appeared amused by Rahmat’s reference to the actor, but said Connery was not a good example as the Hollywood actor was already dead.

“I will adjourn the proceeding for today and I hope Tan Sri (Shafee) recovers well,” he said.

Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said the prosecution had no objection to the postponement.

The court set Friday to hear oral submissions from both parties on the prosecution’s application to call Najib’s co-accused, Arul Kanda, as their witness.

During the proceeding today, both Najib and Arul Kanda, the former 1MDB CEO, were seen sitting in the dock.

Today was initially scheduled for the hearing of an application under Section 63 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 to call Arul Kanda to testify against Najib.

The section states that in a situation where two or more people are charged with an offence under this same law, the court may require one or more of them to give evidence as witnesses for the prosecution if a written application is made by the public prosecutor.

On May 20, lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said Arul Kanda might have information in relation to transactions with Najib which would affect the outcome of the prosecution of the former finance minister.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the final 1MDB audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to prevent any action from being taken against him. Arul Kanda, 45, is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report, to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Putrajaya, between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

Both Najib and Arul Kanda were charged under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

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