KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Three separate judges in the High Court who were hearing Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s criminal trials today allowed his application for his passport to be released from October 25 until December 6, to enable his Singapore travel to see his grandchild who is expected to be born soon.
The prosecution did not object to the application before all three judges.
1MDB trial to go on with Shafee’s absence, more dates added in 2022
This application was allowed by High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, who is hearing Najib’s trial involving over RM2 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) funds.
In making the application to judge Sequerah, Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said his client wishes to have the passport returned from October 25 to December 6 to enable his travel to Singapore on November 21 until December 5.
Shafee said Najib would also then have to undergo quarantine until December 11 upon his return from Singapore.
Among other things, Shafee told the judge that this new passport release period being applied for will affect about seven days of trial, instead of the longer 12 days of trial that would have been affected in Najib’s original application for passport release from October 20 to November 22 and which would have meant Najib being in Singapore from November 3 to November 20.
Now, with Najib planning to be in Singapore from November 21 until December 5, that would mean he would still be able to attend his 1MDB trial before then.
As Najib is tasked with leading Barisan Nasional’s election campaign in Melaka’s state election in November, Shafee said the previously scheduled November 8 trial date would not be feasible as it is nomination day for the Melaka polls.
Shafee, who will himself be in New York from October 27 to November 30, however said the 1MDB trial could proceed without him as the lead defence lawyer being present during the November 9 to 11 and November 15 to 18 hearing dates previously scheduled.
Shafee said that two other lawyers on his team could be present to enable the 1MDB trial to go on on November 9 to 11 and November 15 to 18, as Najib would also be able to attend in court before going to Singapore.
This means the dates when the 1MDB trial could not go on as scheduled due to Najib’s Singapore trip would be November 22 to 25 and December 6 to 9.
Shafee however confirmed that Najib would then be able to resume attending the 1MDB trial on the remaining dates this year of December 13 onwards, after his quarantine ends upon return from Singapore.
The 1MDB trial is already scheduled to go on from December 13 to December 16, and already had trial dates fixed for next year from March 14 to March 17, March 21 to March 24, April 4 to April 7, April 18, April 20 to 21, May 9 to May 12, May 17 to May 19, June 7 to June 9, June 13 to June 16, and June 20 to June 23.
Shafee today then said that new trial dates have been added for the 1MDB trial next year, namely from August 15 to 18, 22 to 25, 29 to 30, September 5 to 8, 12 to 15, 19 to 22, 26 to 29, and October 3 to 6.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam then informed the court that the prosecution has no objection to the application, noting that the new arrangement has provided more dates for the 1MDB trial to proceed and that Shafee had also given the undertaking that the trial could go on with any new prosecution witnesses reading their witness statements in court in November while Shafee is away.
Judge Sequerah then allowed Najib’s passport release for the period October 25 to December 6, and based on the agreed trial dates going on for the 1MDB trial.
Najib to replace two affected hearing dates in 1MDB audit case
High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan earlier this morning similarly heard an application from Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for Najib’s passport to be returned from October 25 until December 6.
The lawyer told the court that Najib has been “entrusted” to lead Barisan Nasional’s campaign in the Melaka state election in November and would have to “delay being introduced to his grandson” to be born in Singapore, due to Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being away in Germany for medical treatment with Zahid’s released passport period being October 26 to November 21.
The Melaka state elections will see November 8 being the nomination date and November 20 being the voting date.
Zaini said he was concerned about the two remaining trial dates this year of November 29 and November 30 for the joint trial involving Najib and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, but Shafee said the defence will seek to replace those two hearing dates as soon as possible.
“I just need your assurance I will get those two days replaced for this year. Can I get your assurance on that?” Zaini said.
“Yes, I give that assurance,” Shafee replied.
“Since there is already assurance from counsel on dates being replaced, there’s no objection.” deputy public prosecutor Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul said.
Zaini then granted the application for Najib to be able to have his passport temporarily returned from October 25 to December 6.
Zaini is the judge hearing an ongoing trial involving Najib’s alleged abuse of position as prime minister and finance minister in February 2016 by instructing for the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB to be amended before it was presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to avoid any civil or criminal action, while Arul Kanda is accused of abetting him.
With November 29 and November 30 no longer being available for Najib’s 1MDB audit trial due to the planned Singapore trip, the next trial dates for this joint trial of Najib and Arul Kanda that have already been scheduled previously are in 2022 ― March 7 to 10 and March 28 to 31.
Judge Zaini confirmed that the passport release application that was approved is applicable to the 1MDB audit trial, as well as two other criminal cases involving Najib in relation to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd’s RM42 million funds and in relation to SRC’s RM27 million.
The trial where Najib is facing three charges of alleged money laundering of the RM27 million, which judge Zaini is also hearing, has yet to start.
In a separate High Court later, judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin also allowed Najib’s application for his impounded passport to be temporarily returned during those dates.
This judge is slated to hear a joint trial of Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah for alleged criminal breach of trust over RM6.64 billion of government funds, with this trial also yet to have started.
Shafee today informed the judge that Najib is applying for the passport release from October 25 to December 6, as he would be travelling on November 21 which is one day after the Melaka state election’s results.
“He leaves on the [November] 21 and then he comes back on December 5, thereafter he has got the quarantine of seven days until December 11,” Shafee said, adding that all the other affected courts in Najib’s other cases had allowed the passport release application.
Shafee said the only court date being affected in this case is just the December 9 date fixed for mention, adding that Najib’s lawyers could proceed with the mention of the case if the judge allows for Najib’s absence on that day.
Deputy public prosecutor Shafiq Hasim said the prosecution had no objections to Najib’s application for passport release.
Judge Jamil then allowed the passport release application from October 25 to December 6, noting that he was making this decision after having listened to Shafee and with the prosecution not objecting, and in consideration of Najib’s reasons in his court affidavits and noting that the Court of Appeal had earlier allowed a similar passport release application to Najib.
Jamil also said Najib’s lawyers could write in to ask for Najib to be excused from attending the December 9 mention date.
Previously, the Court of Appeal on October 18 had allowed Najib’s application then to have his passport released from October 20 to November 22.
The Court of Appeal had heard Najib’s appeal against his conviction in the SRC case involving RM42 million funds.
Malay Mail understands that Najib’s lawyers would also have to appear before the Court of Appeal to seek for the passport release period to be amended to the new dates of October 25 to December 6, and that a court date has yet to be fixed for this.
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