KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — The prosecution in Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case has urged the High Court to impose a strict warning on the former prime minister for attacking former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who is a witness, on his Facebook.
Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram brought up the matter before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah, following an online comment by Najib, posted last Dec 29, regarding Zeti, who allegedly received money from 1MDB.
Najib, in his Facebook post, has urged Zeti, who is listed as one of the prosecution witnesses, to respond to a blog post that claimed her family had received some amount of money from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, which included 1MDB funds.
“I don’t want to move an application to take his bail or contempt, but I will be grateful if the court would impose a strict warning against the accused to not do this again.
“Trial has to take place in a court of law, not in the public domain, certainly not on social media. We want assurance that our witness will not be attacked,” said Sri Ram.
Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah countered that Najib, being restrained from sharing his thoughts on the issue, was similar to “a boxer being sent to the ring with both hands tied, can take punches but not be able to reply back”.
Muhammad Shafee pointed out that he previously tried to apply for a gag order for the Pekan MP to stop the media and any person from discussing the merits of the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, but the application was dismissed.
“Everybody else can say everything about my client. They call him a crook, a ‘perompak’, and nobody took action. The previous Attorney-General or the current Attorney-General, they both did nothing,” said the lawyer.
Muhammad Shafee then asked the judge if he could reserve the matter as he will submit on it further this coming Thursday, to which the judge agreed.
Earlier, Muhammad Shafee applied for Najib to be excused from attending tomorrow’s trial as he need to perform his obligation to visit his Pekan constituency, which is severely affected by the flood.
“I have asked him whether he went there last week and he said no as there were no floods then, but the situation since the last two days, as can be seen in the media, is much worse and he would like to be there to meet his constituents. Otherwise, there will be words and questions of his non-presence,” said Muhammad Shafee.
Justice Sequerah did not allow the request and asked for the trial to continue as planned tomorrow.
Najib, 67, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The trial before Justice Sequerah continues.