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1MDB TRIAL: TRIAL ADJOURNED AS WITNESS IS CLOSE CONTACT OF FRIEND WITH COVID-19

Updated: Feb 19


Najib Razak

18 Feb 2021


KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial has been adjourned after the High Court was informed that the 10th prosecution witness had come into close contact with a friend who has been tested positive for COVID-19.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah adjourned the hearing to May 3 after deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib informed the matter when the trial continued after a short break.

"My lord, during the break, Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, the former 1MDB chief executive officer, received a text message from his friend saying that he (the friend) tested positive for COVID-19.

"Last Monday, our witness met this friend in a meeting room. They were seated two metres apart, but then the meeting was held for over an hour.

"Therefore, I'm seeking your Lordship's instruction whether to continue with him (Mohd Hazem’s testimony) today or stop proceedings at this point," said Ahmad Akram, adding that it was difficult for the prosecution to prepare another witness to testify today.

At this juncture, the former premier's counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, stood up and said they ought not to take the risk.

"The witness would be the primary exposure and we are the secondary. So, we don't want to take any risk," he added.

Following which, Judge Sequerah then adjourned the trial to May 3 and ordered the prosecution to update the court on Mohd Hazem’s status.

“It is not prudent to take the risk and we don't know if Mohd Hazem is asymptomatic,” he added.

On Feb 10, the trial was adjourned also due to Mohd Hazem having come down with fever and had to undergo COVID-19 testing. However, he was tested negative for the virus.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount. -Bernama