Najib’s trial vacated over virus scare

KUALA LUMPUR: The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) hearing involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak was vacated for the day over fears of Covid-19 as the defence team had come in contact with a patient under investigation (PUI).

The entire bench allocated for the defence team from Messrs Shafee & Co was empty except for lawyer Noor Farhah Mustaffa who informed High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah that lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had received a phone call informing him that his sister-in-law had to be tested for the virus.

She said Shafee held a kenduri (gathering) last Saturday at his house which was attended by his sister-in-law and his team.

The court was told that the sister-in-law sits next to a colleague who had been tested positive at their office at Sirim Berhad.

On Wednesday, Sirim issued a statement confirming that one of its employees has tested positive.

“Perhaps our whole office must be quarantined, ” Noor Farhah said here yesterday.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram did not object to an adjournment.

The former federal court judge said he had to be tested too as he was in close contact with two Covid PUIs.

“I am scheduled for a second test tomorrow. I can understand the concern due to the speed of the virus spreading, ” he added.

Justice Sequerah remarked the virus was spreading faster than the speed of the trial.

He ordered the defence to furnish the court with medical letters confirming the sister-in-law had taken the test and whether Shafee and his team needed to be on quarantine leave.

“If I don’t receive these by tomorrow I don’t see why the trial should not continue, ” he said.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.28bil from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The Pekan MP was present during the proceedings yesterday.

The 1MDB hearing was scheduled to resume yesterday following the closure of Najib’s other case, the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

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