Ho Kit Yen – January 7, 2021 2:53 PM
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court warned Najib Razak today not to continue his “attacks” against former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who is a witness in his 1MDB corruption case.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah granted an order sought by the prosecution after hearing arguments from both sides.
“The accused cannot make statements as if the trial is conducted in public domain. No statement must be made in the course of the trial,” Sequerah said.
He said the former prime minister’s Facebook posts against Zeti were tantamount to “an attack against the witness”.
“The court will take necessary action to preserve its integrity,” he said.
Ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram had told the court earlier that Zeti had been listed as one of the prosecution’s witnesses.
He said Najib knew she would be called as the prosecution had served its witness list to the defence in August 2019.
The prosecution sought an order to warn Najib after the MalaysiaToday portal, run by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, claimed that Zeti’s husband and two sons had received over RM100 million in funds from businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.
Responding to the report, Najib urged Zeti to speak up against the allegations, citing that she came out with a statement in May 2018 to declare that she was unaware of the existence of funds or transactions in his bank accounts.
In a statement, Zeti denied the allegations and said she would not be able to make any further comments as she was a potential witness in Najib’s 1MDB trial.
Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told the court the reason cited by the prosecution to move for a court order to warn him was “flawed”.
He said Zeti was the one who had launched “attacks” against Najib since he was charged in court with misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary, in 2018.
“She further made comments in a financial magazine, Euromoney, during the course of the SRC International trial, where she said BNM knew about 1MDB since 2013 and she had raised the matter with the prime minister.
“If we were asked who cast the first stone, it was her and that prejudiced his (Najib’s) trial,” he said.
Shafee also claimed that then attorney-general Tommy Thomas knew about Zeti’s statements during the course of the SRC International trial but “he did nothing”.
The defence maintained that Najib’s action in asking Zeti to “speak out” on the allegations against her family did not come under the ambit of contempt.
“Unless he threatened her, then it’ll be another story. This matter should not be taken any further. This proceeding is a warning to everyone here in court and they are better educated now,” Shafee said.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib told the court that Shafee raised a crucial point in his argument, when the lawyer pointed out that “everyone has learned a lesson”.
“Either way, the counsel ‘agreed’ something wrong was done here.
“She (Zeti) did not make any personal attacks against the former prime minister in the two news reports. In the 2018 news report, she was responding to his statement on her,” he said
Akram said the defence did not call Zeti to testify on its behalf in the SRC International trial to “set the record straight” on the news reports, adding that she was one of the prosecution witnesses offered to the defence.
Court warns Najib over FB post ‘attacking’ Zeti
Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid
The High Court has warned Najib Abdul Razak to refrain from attacking prosecution witness and former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz on social media.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah issued the warning during the former premier’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial in Kuala Lumpur this morning.