Prosecution in 1MDB case warns Najib's defence team not to conduct trial by media
KUALA LUMPUR - The prosecution in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial has raised its objections over a media statement issued by Najib Razak's defence team that accused it of suppressing information.
Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram took the defence to task for issuing a public media statement on Monday afternoon outside of the courtroom.
He told Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah that there was a "direct attack on the prosecution" when Najib's lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah held a press conference on behalf of the accused to say that the prosecution had failed to disclose or to deliver to the defence the particulars of five transactions which the defence claimed to have obtained through their own investigation.
In the press conference on Monday, Shafee also spoke of letters allegedly from Saudi prince to justify the incoming monies into Najib's personal bank account before inviting the media for a question-and-answer session.
"The accused cannot be conducting his trial by media. He must conduct his trial in court," Mr Gopal said during the RM2.28 billion (S$708 million) 1MDB hearing in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
The prosecutor said such action must be stopped. "I cannot respond (in a press conference). It is not proper for me to respond in public," he said.
"The letters which they relied upon were the same ones produced in the RM42 million SRC International case at the High Court's trial and rejected by trial judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, which was later also rejected by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court."
At this point, lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, who is part of the defence team, stood up to object.
"The media statement did not touch on anything on Justice Nazlan's findings in the other case (RM42 million SRC case)," he said.
Mr Gopal said the prosecution never suppressed any document.
"But I must warn my learned friend, they cannot do this. They cannot try this case by the media," he added.
Mr Wan Aizuddin told the court that Shafee, who did not attend the proceedings as he was indisposed, would respond to the prosecution's complaint on Wednesday morning.
Justice Sequerah said the court would wait for Shafee's reply.
Najib, 69, Malaysia's former prime minister, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.28 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The hearing continues on Tuesday afternoon. - THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK