Kuala Lumpur— Reports have emerged that things got awkward when Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was asked to leave the courtroom during her husband’s trial on June 18, Tuesday.
The former Prime Minister is currently on trial for corruption.
The New Straits Times (NST) reported that Madam Rosmah entered the courtroom as proceedings were ongoing, at around 9:20 am. The former first lady, dressed in a red baju kurung, took everyone by surprise when she arrived.
She sat in the first row behind Mr Najib, who, NST reports, “seemed oblivious to her presence.” But when an aide told him that she was there, he turned around to wave to her.
At that moment, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah. Mr Najib’s lawyer was cross-examining a witness for the prosecution— Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, who used to be the chairman of SRC International Sdn Bhd, once a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Shortly after Madam Rosmah entered, Datuk V. Sithambaram, the deputy public prosecutor on the case, told the judge, Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, that she was present in the courtroom.
The DPP said, “I have just been alerted that Rosmah is in the courtroom. I would like to inform the court that we have recorded her statement previously and she is one of our potential witnesses.
We are not being difficult but as a matter of principle, a potential witness should not be here.”
He explained that her statement had been taken by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
“Once a statement is recorded, she is a potential witness; as such she should not be allowed to listen to the hearing,” the deputy public prosecutor told Judge Mohd.
Mr Shafee said that it was up to the judge to decide on the matter.
Madam Rosmah’s lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran, also present at that time, said that he would advise her on the matter, but he also said that she had been allowed in court in the past.
While the lawyers discussed the implications of Madam Rosmah’s presence, she stood up on her own volition and exited from the courtroom, even before Judge Mohd made his ruling on the matter.
The Star Online reports Madam Rosmah as leaving the Jalan Duta courts in a black Proton Perdana.
The wife of the former Prime Minister had appeared in court that day as she sought to put a stop to a notice from a public prosecutor that would require her to declare all her assets before her money-laundering trial begins next year.
Madam Rosmah has claimed trial after she was accused in 2018 of 17 money-laundering charges amounting to RM14 million (S$ 4.5 million). The charges also involve allegations that she failed to declare her tax returns in the years 2014 through 2018.
Three counts of corruption have also been leveled against her in relation to the solar hybrid project in rural schools in Sarawak, as she stands accused of getting RM1.5 million (S$ 491,000) and RM5 million (S$ 1.64 million) from the director of Jeepak Holdings as an incentive for the firm to be awarded the project.
Furthermore, Madam Rosmah also reportedly solicited RM187.5 million (S$ 61.4 million) from Jeepak Holdings.
If found guilty, she could go to jail for as long as 20 years, as well as be made to pay a heavy fine.
Mr Najib, on the other hand, faces seven charges involving RM42mil in funds belonging to SRC. He has been charged for abuse of power and 3 counts of criminal breach of trust in connection with the 1MDB scandal, for which he has claimed trial.
He is also accused of the misappropriation of RM42 million (S$ 13.8 million) in 1MDB funds, and faces three counts of money laundering in connection with this amount./ TISG