My call to decide whether prosecution proves 1MDB case, says judge

"I am supposed to decide whether these elements have been proven or not."

23 Apr 2024 08:52pm
Najib attended the trial at High Court today. Photo by Bernama
Najib attended the trial at High Court today. Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, who is presiding over Datuk Seri Najib Razak's case involving the misappropriation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds reminded parties that it is for the court to decide whether the prosecution has proven its case.

This came during the cross-examination of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Senior Supt Nur Aida Ariffin, 37, by Najib's defence counsel, Wan Azwan Aiman Wan Fakhruddin regarding one of the four abuse of position charges faced by the former prime minister at the High Court here.

Wan Azwan Aiman explained that his line of questioning was relevant for the defence to establish whether Nur Aida, who is the case investigating officer, had indeed investigated the four elements in the charge.

However, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Akram Gharib objected to the defence's line of questioning, asserting that this aspect of the charge aligns with Section 23(2) of the MACC Act, which presumes that Najib had abused his power.

Najib's lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, contended that the charges against his client were inaccurate and overlapping.

He emphasised that this issue would form a significant part of the defence's arguments once the prosecution concludes its case, especially considering the trial is nearing its end.

"I don't want us to be accused of not raising this. The subject matter on all the charges will be a huge part of our submissions. The charges are all wrong, duplicitous and multiplicitous," said Muhammad Shafee.

At this juncture, Justice Sequerah instructed both parties to include the matter in their submissions later and reminded them that it was up to the court, and not the MACC investigating officer, to determine whether the prosecution had proven elements of the charges.

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"The determination of whether or not this has been proven, as it has been said time and again, is my call. I am supposed to decide whether these elements have been proven or not," he said.

The judge also noted that the question posed by the defence was something technical that the investigating officer could not answer.

Meanwhile, to another question by Wan Azwan Aiman during cross-examination, Nur Aida who is the 49th prosecution witness confirmed she did not investigate 1MDB's former chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

One of the recommendations in the Public Accounts Committee report on April 7, 2016, was for authorities to probe Shahrol Azral and those related to the company’s financial state.

Najib, 70, is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial resumes tomorrow. - BERNAMA