Kuala Lumpur — After Malaysian financial news site The Edge reported former Prime Minister “taking a selfie with a sad expression” while in court on Thursday, May 9, Datuk Seri Najib Razak denied this, saying he had only been using his phone as a mirror.
He told High Court Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, “I used it as a mirror to check my personal appearance.”
Mr Najib is currently on trial on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) as well as one count of abuse of power over funds amounting to RM42 million (S$ 13.8 million) linked to SRC International.
Additionally, he has been slapped with three money laundering charges over this amount of money. If found guilty, he could pay a fine and go to jail for as long as 20 years.
Thursday, May 9, was day 16 of the trial.
When the session resumed after taking a break for lunch, deputy public prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram asked the court to issue a directive after the article from The Edge had reported that Mr Najib was taking selfies inside the court.
The deputy public prosecutor asked the court to issue a warning to the accused, as well as everyone present, that taking pictures is forbidden.
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the lead counsel for Mr Najib, also stood up and said that the article had upset the defense as well, and he pointed to the journalist who had written the report, who was still present in court, New Straits Times reports.
He said, “This reporter is seated in the back, behind my client. Despite this, he managed to conclude that Najib took a selfie and looked sad while doing it. I have spoken to Najib and he has denied taking a selfie. He was just using his phone as a mirror.”
On his part, Mr Shafee said that the court needed to reprimand the reporter for having published fake news, as it was very prejudicial toward his client.
He added that it was not the first time that this type of thing had occurred.
“This is the sort of reporting that is not welcomed. If they want to be treated as the fourth estate, they should not act like estate people.”
He proceeded to ask leeway from the court for the former Prime Minister to clarify the situation.
However, Mr Sithambaram replied that the issue at hand was whether or not a selfie had been taken.
Mr Najib was then asked by Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazal whether he had indeed taken a selfie or not, and the former Prime Minister denied having taken one.
Judge Mohd accepted his explanation but proceeded to remind everyone present of the rules of the court.
”As a general reminder, I must emphasise that it is a court rule. No photography allowed.
If selfies were taken just now, which the accused has said he did not do, it would be contempt of court.”
Judge Mohd emphasized that the sanctity of court proceedings must always be respected.
Earlier this week, the Government of Malaysia, as well as the country’s police, filed two civil forfeiture suits against Mr Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, as well as other individuals, in order to take possession of items worth RM711million (S$234 million) which had purportedly been purchased using funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
These were filed on Tuesday, May 7, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court. The items to be seized include cash, luxury vehicles, jewellery, and designer handbags, according to a report in The Edge Financial Daily.
According to the report, this forfeiture would be the next step following authorities having taken possession of valuables from properties in the capital city district of Bukit Bintang and other venues. /TISG