PUTRAJAYA, Sept 8 — Former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram continues to lead the prosecution team in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s court cases linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal.
This follows a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal’s three-member bench today in dismissing Najib’s appeal to disqualify Sri Ram from appearing as ad-hoc senior deputy public prosecutor in the former premier’s 1MDB-related criminal trials.
Justice Datuk Yaacob Md Sam who led the bench held that the court was of the view that there was no appealable error committed by the High Court judge in dismissing Najib’s application (to disqualify Sri Ram) which warranted appellate intervention.
“We find there is no merit in this appeal. We, therefore dismiss this appeal. The order of the High Court is affirmed,” he said.
Justice Yaacob said Najib’s appeal is against the High Court’s decision which dismissed his application to disqualify Sri Ram who was appointed as senior deputy public prosecutor to lead the prosecution in four criminal cases brought against Najib.
The four 1MDB-linked trials against Najib still pending in the Kuala Lumpur High Court are the IMDB case, the 1MDB audit tampering case, the criminal breach of trust involving payments to International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and the money-laundering and power abuse involving RM2.6 million linked to 1MDB case.
In delivering the court’s decision, Justice Yaacob said Najib’s complaint was that Sri Ram’s appointment as senior deputy public prosecutor was tainted with the element of interfering with the powers of investigation which could only be carried out by the relevant authorities of four agencies and that it was not within the power of the public prosecutor to exercise.
He said the other complaint by Najib was that Sri Ram’s appointment was also tainted with an element of bias and conflict of interest in view of Sri Ram’s visit to the house of former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and alleged conversation that had taken place between them.
The other two judges were Datuk Abu Bakar Jais and Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali.
Najib, 68, was appealing against the High Court’s decision delivered on Feb 15, this year in dismissing his application to disqualify Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in the 1MDB-linked trials.
High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, when dismissing the Pekan MP’s application, said the court found Najib’s allegation that Sri Ram had been involved in the investigation against him unmeritorious.
He held that Najib’s claims of biases which relied on the communications between Mohamed Apandi Ali and Sri Ram has no basis and was misplaced.
Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Nur Syahirah Hanapiah appeared for Najib in today’s virtual proceedings.
Sri Ram and deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib appeared for the prosecution.