Najib’s 1MDB trial: Let former CEO have his say, urges prosecution

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 08 Sep 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MBD) trial wants former CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman to be given the chance to read his witness statement, which has been disputed by the defence as mere “hearsay”.

Hazem, who was the CEO between 2013 and 2015, is the 10th prosecution witness in the trial involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is accused of misappropriating RM2.28bil from 1MDB's funds.

Hazem was supposed to take the stand at the High Court here Monday (Sept 7) but Najib's defence team has objected to his witness statement – which has yet to be read in its entirety – as hearsay, saying it should be made inadmissible in court.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on Tuesday (Sept 8) told the court that the witness should be given the chance to read his witness statement to satisfy the requirement of Section 32 of the Evidence Act 1950.

Sri Ram submitted that whether the evidence was hearsay or otherwise should only be decided by the judge at the end of the prosecution's case.

On the defence's application to remove certain paragraphs from the disputed witness statement, Sri Ram said the witness' story would not make sense "if bits and pieces were taken out".

"The witness testimony is incomprehensible if some excerpts were removed. The way the evidence flows in this case is part of the transaction," he added.

In his reply, Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah urged the court to decide on the issue as and when the matter arises.

He contended that one could not admit hearsay evidence in court, whether in examination-in-chief or at any given time.

"What is inadmissible remains inadmissible," he said.

Shafee cited a line from the statement where fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, informed Hazem that 1MDB was allegedly under the direct management of Najib and that Najib was aware of every single decision in the company.

"Where is the guarantee of truth? The defence is put on a great arduous task of cross-examining on hearsay evidence" he said.

Shafee then told the court that he needed more time to reply to the prosecution's submission on the issue, which was allowed by the court.

The defence is expected to do a further submission on the matter this Thursday (Sept 10) before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.28bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

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