Kuala Lumpur— The trial of former Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak was postponed on September 11 due to Mr Najib’s bout of conjunctivitis, making it the second time an eye infection has caused a postponement to legal proceedings.
Before the trial started, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is Mr Najib’s lawyer, told High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that his client was indisposed.
Apparently the haze had affected Mr Najib’s eye condition.
Mr Shafee said, “I had a call this morning about 7.30am from my client and his wife. But the news is that the conjunctivitis has revisited and I think it’s because of yesterday’s outing that he went and the haze does not help.”
Mr Najib faces 25 charges of money laundering and power abuse involving RM2.28 billion (approximately S$ 754 million) in 1MDB funds.
The former Prime Minister was charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law.
If he is convicted, he will face jail time of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000 (approximately S$ 3,305), whichever is higher.
Wednesday, September 11, would have been the seventh day of the 1MDB trial.
Mr Shaffee also told the court that Mr Najib had asked for an appointment with his doctor, but had been told that the specialist at Garden Midvalley would only be able to see him at 10:30 am.
The judge called the incident “unfortunate,” he said that the proceedings would resume on September 13, Friday, or September 17, next Tuesday, on account that Malaysia Day, which falls on September 16, Monday, is a public holiday.
While the 1MDB trial is supposed to be held from Monday to Thursday every week until the middle of November, Judge Sequerah has suggested that two Fridays also be allowed for it because of the days lost. However, the prosecution and defense have said they already have other hearings scheduled on Fridays.
An update concerning the schedule of the 1MDB trial is expected to be published today in the light of the days Mr Najib had to be absent due to medical reasons.
Supporters for the former Prime Minister were present at the courthouse today, with the Malay Mail reporting that some had come from far away and had been waiting since 6:00 in the morning.
A supporter who asked to remain anonymous told the news outlet, “Many people still support Bossku Najib. We want to show Datuk Seri (Najib) our support for him. Hopefully, this small gesture of encouragement will help him through such a long trial.”
Later, upon learning that a two-day medical certificate had been issued to Mr Najib, it was confirmed by Ahmad Akram Gharib, a deputy public prosecutor, that the trial will resume on September 17, next Tuesday.
Last month, toward the end of Mr Najib’s first trial, which involved former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, a hearing was postponed when Mr Najib suffered from suspected infectious conjunctivitis in both eyes.
That particular trial had to be deferred for three days while Mr Najib got well./ TISG