Wake and cremation of Gopal Sri Ram --LOW BOON TAT/THE STAR

Friends, family and colleagues say goodbye to Sri Ram

KUALA LUMPUR: The mood was sombre mood at the Nirvana 2 Memorial Centre here as friends, families and colleagues of the late Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram bade him their final farewell.

A white hearse carrying the former Federal Court judge’s body left the memorial park at 1.54pm on Tuesday (Jan 31). His family members were also seen in the hearse.

Lawyers and politicians were among the mourners who attended the wake to pay their last respects to Sri Ram.

Deputy Law and Institutional Reform Minister Ramkarpal Singh said Sri Ram and his father, the late Datuk Seri Karpal Singh, went a long way back when they started their legal practice in the 1970s.

“He will be sorely missed,” Ramkarpal told reporters at the memorial centre.

Lawyer Datuk V. Sithambaram, who knew Sri Ram for 44 years, said an era has passed with the passing of the legend.

Sithambaram, who was the ad hoc prosecutor in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s SRC International case, said it was hard to find another lawyer of Sri Ram’s standing and calibre.

“He is a born teacher. He loves to teach and see others improve,” he said, adding that he has fond memories of Sri Ram.

“He can make a serious point with a sense of humour that you will remember at the end of the day. He can make complex issues very simple to understand for the layman. That is his gift and that is very hard to come by,” he added.

Sithambaran said Sri Ram worked very hard and was very passionate about his craft.

“I think it is his true calling to be a lawyer and a judge,” he said, adding that Sri Ram was also a kind and sympathetic person.

Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming said Sri Ram would be dearly missed.

“He is widely regarded as the ‘Lord Denning of Malaysia’. Not only is he a brilliant litigation lawyer, he is also a well-learned judge,” Nga said, while comparing Sri Ram with the legendary English barrister and judge Alfred Thompson Denning, who was known for his groundbreaking rulings.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong, who also attended the wake, said Sri Ram was a great man.

“Once in a while, if I made mistakes in my press conferences, he would call me and guide me so that I did not go the wrong way,” he said.

Others who attended the wake were Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, former Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Azhar Harun, former communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo, former health minister Tan Sri S. Subramaniam, former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, former deputy rural development minister Sivarasa Rasiah, Bangi MP Syahredzan Johan and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.

Also present were Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah, legal practitioners Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Latheefa Koya and N. Surendran, among others.  ANN

Ongoing trials postponed

PETALING JAYA: Ongoing 1MDB-related trials and the appeal by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor on her corruption conviction will be handled by full-time deputy public prosecutors (DPPs), says Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun.

“The present team will handle the prosecution,” said Idrus when contacted by The Star yesterday.

Idrus was responding to rumours that a private law firm will be replacing former federal court judge and lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who passed away on Sunday.

Previously, Sri Ram had worked together with DPPs from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) in two 1MDB-related trials and Rosmah’s appeal on her corruption conviction.

Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, 70, is on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount.

The current prosecution team for the 1MDB trial is led by DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib.

However, it is not confirmed if Ahmad Akram will be taking over the lead in Rosmah’s graft case.

When met at the Kuala Lumpur Court complex earlier yesterday after proceedings ended, he confirmed that he is leading the prosecution in 1MDB for the time being but refused to comment further.

Sri Ram was also lead prosecutor in another 1MDB audit tampering trial involving Najib and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

On March 3, a ruling will be delivered on whether Najib and Arul will have to enter their defence.

Meanwhile, Rosmah was found guilty in September last year on three corruption charges in connection with a RM1.25bil project to provide solar hybrid energy to 369 schools in Sarawak.

She is appealing to disqualify High Court Judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan as the trial judge, as well as to set aside her conviction and sentence.

Sri Ram was also tasked with prosecuting Rosmah, who is facing 12 money laundering charges worth RM7mil and five charges of failing to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board.

Meanwhile, the proceedings at the 1MDB trial yesterday were a sombre affair following the death of Sri Ram, who was described by his team members as “a father figure”.

Ahmad Akram asked High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah for the proceedings to be adjourned yesterday and today in light of Sri Ram’s demise.

He said Sri Ram’s wake and cremation ceremony would be held later today.

“All of us in the prosecution team are seeking your permission to vacate the matter for Monday and Tuesday to allow us to attend both functions (Sri Ram’s wake and cremation).

“He was our boss, our team leader and he was like a father to all of us,” said the distraught prosecutor.

Today is set for a continued hearing where prosecution witness Joanna Yu, who was Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former relationship manager at AmBank, was supposed to take the stand.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the court that the defence had no objection to the adjournment.

“I would absolutely have no objection whatsoever,” he said.

Muhammad Shafee also extended his condolences to the prosecution team.

Justice Sequerah then allowed the adjournment.

“This trial will resume on Thursday with the continued cross-examination of Yu,” he said.  ANN