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Najib's 1MDB trial postponed as lawyer Shafee unwell

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah will be on medical leave until Oct 9.

2 minute read
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today was postponed to Oct 11 as his lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was taken ill.

Another of Najib's lawyers, Alaistair Brandah Norman, told presiding judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that Shafee has come down with a fever as well as a severe throat infection and was unable to address the court today.

"We have to inform that Shafee took ill this morning and was given medical leave for four days, from today until Oct 9. He is unable to attend the Court of Appeal matter this morning. 

"For 1MDB trial arrangements next week on Oct 11, we ask for case management to be fixed at 2.30pm as Shafee has been instructed to attend another appeal case before judicial commissioner Azhar Abdul Hamid.

"He is required to submit on six grounds for a case that has been going on since 1999 and will not be able to come for the morning trial session," he said.

The lawyer also requested for the trial scheduled on Oct 12 to start later in the day as Shafee would be in another High Court with judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid for Najib’s judicial review hearing to challenge the Prison Department’s decision disallowing the former prime minister's request to attend the current Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam raised no objection to today’s postponement but requested that previous witnesses, AmBank Private Banking Capital Market head Yap Wai Keat and former AmBank non-executive director Cheah Tek Kuang, who have yet to be cross-examined and re-examined, be disposed of before another witness is called. 

Sequerah said these witnesses would be kept hanging if the situation continues, and asked for the prosecution to arrange for a new witness to ensure the continued flow of the trial.

"This (1MDB) case has been delayed for so long. We can’t be waiting for this court and that court, we also have a commitment to finish this trial. Please ensure that the new witnesses are available on those days (Oct 11 and 12)," the judge said.

The 1MDB trial today was supposed to continue with Shafee's cross-examination of Cheah, who is the 39th prosecution witness.

Najib, 69, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.