NAJIB Razak will make history today as the first former prime minister of Malaysia to enter his defence on corruption charges when he gives sworn testimony at his trial over SRC International trial funds at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
He will read out his witness statement which is expected to take up most of the day.
The 66-year-old accused will be the first defence witness, as required by law. For the defence stage, hearings dates have been fixed from today until December 19.
“He (Najib) will be reading from the statement. It will be just like (how) other witnesses read their statements, it’s exactly the same thing,” said a member of his defence team.
After Najib has given his sworn testimony, he will be cross-examined by the prosecution.
The prosecution’s case in the SRC International trial saw 57 witnesses testifying over 57 days between April 3 and August 27.
The prosecution tendered more than 750 exhibits, including Najib’s bank documents, cash transactions, meeting minutes and BlackBerry Messenger chats.
The high court on October 22 and 23 heard submissions from both the defence, led by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, and prosecution, headed by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.
Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled on November 11 that evidence submitted by the prosecution showed that Najib abused his office for the purpose of obtaining gratification.
The judge said the prosecution has established a prima facie case for the power abuse charge under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009; CBT charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code; and money-laundering charges under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.
Najib faces seven criminal charges in the SRC International trial. Three are criminal breach of trust, three for money-laundering and one is for power abuse. He faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment upon conviction.
The charges are in relation to RM4 billion in loans issued to SRC International from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) in 2011 and 2012, for which Najib is accused of receiving RM42 million in his accounts in 2014 and 2015.
Judge Nazlan, while delivering his decision for Najib to enter his defence, said Najib had “enormous influence” over SRC International as finance minister, as the Minister of Finance Inc had been the sole shareholder of SRC, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
He had also been prime minister, the judge added, and had authority under the articles of SRC “to appoint and dismiss directors of the company and to whom certain reserved matters including amendments must be referred.”
Nazlan said the defence’s argument that Najib had not given any instructions or directions, but merely made requests in relation to securing loans from KWAP, “cannot withstand scrutiny”.
The judge said the RM4 billion in loans would not have been approved by KWAP’s investment panel if not for the government guarantees.
The judge had also said that evidence had pointed to “wrongful gain” on Najib’s part as he had issued cheques for the RM42 million.
Najib has said he will clear his name in court.
“In order to defend myself, I will need to give a sworn statement where I can be cross-examined by the prosecution,” he said in a Facebook post.
“My lawyers and I are given the opportunity to call witnesses for the first time in this trial.
“Until now, we have only heard from the prosecution witnesses. Defence witnesses are given a chance to provide the real picture and prove that I’m innocent.
“I will soon have a chance to clear my name in court.”
Finally, Najib’s chance to tell all in SRC International corruption trial
Background of the defence trial
The Pekan MP whose corruption trial started on April 3 was ordered to enter his defence on November 11 after High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled the prosecution has proven prima facie, meaning there is sufficient grounds for a case against him after calling 57 witnesses in a hearing that lasted 57 days.
It is doubly significant in that for the first time in Malaysian history, a former prime minister will address the seven criminal charges against him as a witness.
The 66-year-old chose to testify under oath from the stand, which means he will be questioned not only by his own lawyers but will be subject to cross-examination by prosecutors, who will be looking very closely for any flaw in his testimony.
Since Najib has chosen to give sworn testimony, he is expected to be called first to the witness stand, in accordance with Section 181 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Section 181 of the CPC states that if any accused person elects to be called as a witness, his evidence shall be taken before that of other witnesses for the defence.
Despite the eagerness to explain himself, Najib would have to inform the court of his intentions before the beginning of proceedings if he wished to change the manner of his defence.
It is uncertain as to the number of witnesses the defence planned to call, with prosecutors also offering a total of 66 witnesses to the defence team.
The prosecution is led by Datuk V. Sithambaram while Najib is represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Najib’s seven SRC International charges
Out of the seven charges, Najib is accused of committing three counts of criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, and a separate charge of abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.
For the remaining three charges, he is accused of laundering RM42 million.
At the defence stage of the trial, the prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the court to find the accused guilty, and subsequently convict the accused as charged.
If the prosecution fails to do so, Najib who is the accused, will be acquitted and discharged.
Najib’s defence trial will run from December 3 to 4, December 9 to 12 and December 16 to 19.
– Malay Mail