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Ex-Federal Court judge, 1MDB prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram dies

He died at 79, days after being warded for a lung infection.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram. Photo: Bernama
Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram. Photo: Bernama

Gopal Sri Ram, one of Malaysia's most senior legal experts who led the prosecution team in the trials related to the 1MDB scandal, passed away today, days after being warded for a lung infection.

Sri Ram, 79, who served as a judge at both the Court of Appeal and Federal Court with more than 800 judgments considered as authority and precedents, was reportedly admitted to the intensive care unit of a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.

Following the charges brought against Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor, Sri Ram was appointed as an ad hoc prosecutor, leading the prosecution's case until Najib lost his final appeal last year. 

He also represented current prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in his sodomy appeals in 2014.

Known for giving oral judgments without delay as well as important judgments related to public interest cases, Sri Ram's views were often considered the authority, especially in matters of constitutional law.

As a lawyer, Sri Ram was known to represent clients from both sides of the political divide.

"I am like a taxi and must serve any passenger who hails me," he was reported to have said when asked why he represented Anwar in the sodomy case.

"As a lawyer, I am above politics. Whoever wants me to represent them in criminal cases, I will appear provided there is no conflict of interest," he told the now-defunct news portal, The Malaysian Insider, in 2014.

He acted among others for the Umno faction led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in the 1988 High Court case where the party was declared illegal.

He also appeared for  PAS' Mamat Daud, who was charged with causing disharmony under the Penal Code because he served as the imam for Friday prayers at a mosque without the authorities' permission.

In the solar hybrid project case involving Najib's wife Rosmah last year, where she was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail, Sri Ram was quick to say that the outcome was not a cause for celebration.

"We are not happy or unhappy about anything. It is not our role to be happy about someone else's grief," said Sri Ram, who led the prosecution in the trial.

"Sentencing is never easy. As a former judge, I can tell you that sentencing is never easy. It is one of the most difficult parts of judicial life."