KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyers were given an earful by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas today, leading to some tense moments in the courtroom.
The visibly upset chief prosecutor in the former prime minister’s trial did not hold back after the defence first complained about the witness list and then brought up the issue of proceedings being held on Friday.
Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh first got Tommy all riled up after he said that the prosecution was not sticking to its witness list given to the defence.
He said the prosecution has yet to call the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to take the stand although he was listed to testify on Monday.
“We were given a list last week on who was supposed to testify this week.
“However, on Monday we were informed that there has been a change of direction and the witness will only be called later,” he said.
Harvinderjit lamented that such changes caused difficulties in the defence’ preparations and it should be avoided in future.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul then explained that the witness was actually ready to be called on Monday but the ‘situation’ changed.
He said the witness will still be called in due time.
However, this did not seem to satisfy Harvinderjit, who said he saw the witness in court yesterday.
At this point, Tommy stood up and rebuked the defence.
Speaking in an angry tone he said the defence had no business to dictate how the prosecution should conduct the trial.
“Nobody micro manages the trial like this. It is entirely up to our discretion on who to call and when to call them. We will not compromise on this,” he said.
Just when everyone thought the situation was settled, Tommy became incensed again when the defence protested against the proceedings being held on Friday.
This is because the parties had previously agreed that Friday would be considered an ‘off day’ for lawyers to manage their other affairs as Najib’s trial was expected to go on until September at least.
Tommy insisted that the lawyers give a replacement day for the case to go on.
He said lawyers should take the trial seriously and not continuously seek for it to be deferred.
His comments did not sit well with Harvinderjit, who protested to what Tommy had said.
“I take umbrage to what the learned AG has said,” he said before taking his seat.
Later, there were some light moments when Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the lunch break during the puasa month was too short.
He said the 30 minutes given were not enough for Muslim lawyers to go to the nearby mosque, which is located opposite the courthouse here, and pray.
“This is the puasa month and we need to do good deeds as much as we can.
“I pray instead of 30 minutes we can be given 45 minutes to do all these good deeds,” he said.
Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali then quipped that Shafee could also perform good deeds in court.
He then consented for the lunch break to be extended to 45 minutes before reminding everyone to be on time.
Najib is on trial for the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd money.
He faces up to 20 years jail and fine for the offences, if convicted.