Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his lawyers had requested for the Court of Appeal to vacate the scheduled decision date on his appeal, which is Wednesday (Dec. 8), Malaysiakini reported.
The reason they gave was that he, as well as a number of people on his legal team, had been allegedly in "close contact" with a Covid-19 positive case.
The letter, which was dated on Dec. 6, asked for another hearing that was set to take place on Dec. 7 to be postponed as well.
On Dec. 7, the court was to hear Najib's application to adduce fresh evidence in his appeal to overturn his conviction in the RM42 million (S$13.5 million) SRC International case.
As for the hearing on Dec. 8, Najib was supposed to receive the verdict on his appeal to overturn his conviction on his corruption case.
Najib allegedly came in close contact with positive Covid-19 case
In the letter submitted by his legal team, they claimed that Najib's lead defence counsel, his son and his son's wife, attended an event on Dec. 4, where a person was later tested positive for Covid-19.
According to Malaysiakini, the Covid-19 patient was the mother of one of Najib's legal team members.
Another member of the legal team was also tested positive for Covid-19, Malaysiakini added.
"We have a social responsibility to this honourable court, as well as others involved, to inform about this," the letter read.
"Not a coffeeshop": Court of Appeal judge
Najib's defence counsel, together with one bailor, were present during the proceedings today, Malaysiakini reported.
However, Najib was not present. His lawyers could not answer questions on his whereabouts as well.
In response to the defence counsel's request to postpone the hearing on Dec. 7, Court of Appeal judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said, "This is not a coffee shop. This is the court of law."
Karim also reminded Harvinder that an oral explanation is not enough to substantiate the excuse for Najib's absence as concrete evidence is required.
The panel of judges also questioned the bailor regarding Najib's whereabouts, but the bailor could not answer.
"We can cancel the (RM2 million) bail and issue a warrant of arrest for Najib's non-attendance. You yourself (bailor) do not know why Najib is not here. You are just guessing." Karim reportedly said.
He also questioned if this is a tactic to vacate the scheduled decision hearing on Dec. 8, noting that the application to adduce new evidence was only filed last week.
Denied application to postpone
The panel then denied the defence's application to postpone the hearing and directed it to resume on Dec.8 at 12.30pm via Zoom, instead of a physical hearing.
According to the letter submitted by his lawyers, Najib is supposedly back in Malaysia now after his trip to Singapore, as his legal team said he had been to their office "for the purpose of checking and affirming affidavits filed today (Dec. 6)".
In July 2020, Najib was found guilty involving the transfer of RM42 million (S$13.5 million) from the former 1MDB unit SRC International into his personal bank accounts in 2014 and 2015 -- RM27 million (S$8.7 million) and RM5 million (S$1.6 million) in December 2014, and another RM10 million (S$3.2 million) in February 2015.
The former prime minister was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power.
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