Key witness Zeti on MC

KUALA LUMPUR: The highly anticipated testimony of Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz (pic) in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s graft trial in the High Court had to be postponed as she is ill.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib told Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah the former Bank Negara governor was on MC due to high fever, vertigo and vomiting.

Zeti is a key witness, whose name has been mentioned throughout the former prime minister’s RM2.28bil 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) corruption trial.

Ahmad Akram said Zeti’s lawyer had informed the investigating officer (IO) that she was unwell and was given a two-day MC.

Zeti was initially scheduled to take the stand yesterday.

Justice Sequerah then said the court would need to view the MC, to which Ahmad Akram said it would be provided to the court.

Former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, who is the 42nd prosecution witness, will be taking the stand for cross-examination today.

Last month, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told the court that the prosecution intends to call Zeti as a prosecution witness after Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah posed a Zeti-related question to the 39th prosecution witness, former AmBank non-executive director Cheah Tek Kuang.

Cheah was grilled about the presence of the fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or known as Jho Low, at Zeti’s house.

In yesterday’s proceedings, the court also heard submission on the admissibility of an audio recording of an alleged conversation between Najib and a Middle Eastern leader who was referred to as “Your Highness”.

Najib’s defence team contended the recording was not legally obtained under Section 43 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.

Muhammad Shafee said the recording was a “purposeful invasion” of an individual’s fundamental rights under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution (FC) as Section 43 was not adhered to.

He said Najib would also be deprived from having an avenue to challenge an illegally obtained evidence by the blanket application of the prosecution with regards to Section 41(A) of the MACC Act.

“The evidence in question relates to four audio recordings of telephone conversations as well as transcripts between Najib and several other prominent individuals, where Section 43 applies.

“Apart from not knowing the identity of the individual who had authorised the interception of communication mandated under Section 43, Najib was also left in the dark and in a precarious position of not knowing the contents of the other recordings,” he said.

Justice Sequerah remarked the prosecution had not disclosed how the recording was obtained.

Muhammad Shafee said he would be surprised if the prosecution would be willing to disclose its source.

“It would reveal the state of affairs in this country... the Special terms of wiretapping individuals,” he said.

Muhammad Shafee said it was only right for the person who did the recording to come forth to identify the audio but this would not happen as it would be a “confession” as the taping was not done rightly.

Ahmad Akram then stood up to say that an MACC investigating officer would be called to the stand to identify the audio recording.

Najib, 69, is on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

The hearing continues today.

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