Najib fails in third bid to recuse Sri Ram from a 1MDB-linked trial

Datuk Seri Najib Razak. -filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has failed to recuse ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report tampering trial.

High Court judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan dismissed the application after finding the applicant's claims against the former Federal Court judge to be baseless and misplaced.

Najib had contended that a communication between former attorney general Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and Sri Ram was proof that the latter was biased towards him and that Sri Ram was also involved in the 1MDB-related investigation prior to the court case.

On the communication between Apandi and Sri Ram, the judge said Sri Ram was entitled to have his personal opinion and it remained just a personal opinion.

"It would have been a different consideration if he had demonstrated biasness when carrying out his duty as a senior public prosecutor," Justice Zaini said in delivering his decision here on Monday (Feb 15).

He added that the communication took place before Sri Ram's appointment in the case.

Justice Zaini said Najib had never made complaints over Sri Ram's conduct in the 1MDB-related trials and this had shown Sri Ram had been "above board" in his conduct as a senior public prosecutor.

On Najib's allegation that Sri Ram had been involved in the investigation against him, the court ruled that it was "unmeritorious".

"There is no cogent evidence to support the applicant’s allegation and it remains purely hypothetical.

"This issue had in any event been canvassed by the applicant (Najib) in the previous applications highlighted by the prosecution as respondent. It is a moot point.

"It has been deliberated and decided. The decisions held by the other courts should remain and not be regurgitated again," said the judge.

This is Najib's third attempt to recuse Sri Ram from prosecuting in 1MDB-linked criminal cases.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib appeared for the prosecution while lawyer Nur Syahirah Hanapiah represented Najib.

The 1MDB audit report trial will resume on Feb 22.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

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