KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has fixed May 21 to hear an application by former Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abd Samad to transfer his RM1mil money laundering case from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan set the date after Deputy Public Prosecutor Natrah Fareha Rahmat asked the court for more time to respond to a notice of motion filed by Shahrir on March 23.
In the notice, Shahrir is seeking to amend details in his application to transfer his case to the High Court.
The hearing for Shahrir's transfer application was initially fixed for hearing on Tuesday (March 30).
DPP Natrah Fareha said the prosecution received the notice of motion for the amendment on March 25.
"The prosecution needs time to reply to the new facts in the additional affidavit submitted by Shahrir in the notice," she said.
Shahrir, 71, was represented by lawyers Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin and Syahrul Syazwan Salehin.
In the additional affidavit affirmed by Shahrir, he said there was material evidence from former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas in the latter's controversial book My Story: Justice In The Wilderness.
Shahrir said Thomas' revelation in the book touched on high-profile court cases during the latter's time as the AG including Datuk Seri Najib Razak's SRC International Sdn Bhd and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trials.
"For the two cases, Thomas, who represented the prosecution, asked for the cases to be transferred to the High Court for trial," he said.
Shahrir added other high-profile cases with similar charges under the Income Tax Act 1967 and Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 - such as the ones faced by Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah - were transferred to the High Court without objections from the prosecution.
Shahrir said this indirectly showed that the prosecution itself preferred the High Court to hear and decide on its cases.
"However, my application to transfer my case was objected to by the prosecution.
"This action indirectly showed that my right to be equal under the law as provided under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution has been denied," he added.
Shahrir further said that if the trial begins at the Sessions Court, the case would only be presided over by one Sessions Court judge, one High Court judge, and three judges at the Court of Appeal.
In comparison, if the case begins at the High Court, Shahrir said it could be heard up to Federal Court level.
Meanwhile, Sessions judge Azura Alwi has allowed the defence application to vacate the trial dates, fixed for April 22 and 23, pending the High Court's decision on Shahrir's transfer application.
The judge ordered both parties to update the Sessions Court on the High Court's decision after the hearing on May 21.
On Jan 20 last year, Shahrir was charged with money laundering by not stating his real income in the Income Tax Return Form for Assessment Year 2013, which is a violation of Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967, on the RM1mil, believed to be from alleged unlawful activities which he received from Najib through an AmIslamic Bank Berhad cheque dated Nov 27,2013.
The cheque was then deposited into Shahrir's Public Islamic Bank account on Nov 28 the same year.
He was charged with committing the offence at the office of the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN), Duta branch, Government Office Complex, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim here, on April 25,2014.
The charge, framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, provides a maximum fine of RM5mil, or imprisonment of up to five years, or both, if found guilty.