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COURT ISSUES STERN WARNING TO NAJIB NOT TO ATTACK ZETI ON SOCIAL MEDIA


7 JAN 2021


KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today issued a stern warning to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to stop attacking former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz on his Facebook.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah, in making the ruling, said even though there was no necessity for a gag order to be imposed on the Pekan MP, he must not make statements relating to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial as if the trial is in the public domain.

“The court, therefore, issues a stern warning to the accused not to repeat the action and the court will take any action necessary to protect the integrity of the court,” said Justice Sequerah.

The court made the ruling after the prosecution urged the court to impose a strict warning on Najib for attacking Zeti, who is a witness in the 1MDB case, on his Facebook.

Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram brought up the matter on Tuesday following an online comment made by Najib on Dec 29 regarding Zeti who allegedly received money from 1MDB.

Justice Sequerah said the statements that Zeti had made in both of her interviews did not justify the accused in this case to respond by way of his Facebook post.

“What the accused stated in his post can be viewed, as a whole, as an attack to the witness,” said the judge.

Earlier, Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah submitted that Najib's Facebook post was a response to Zeti's statements made in two articles that were published online.

“One of the interviews, namely the one with news portal TheEdgemarkets.com, was published on July 3, 2018, in which she continued to attack my client one day before he was charged over SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds (July 4).

“Tan Sri Zeti's statements (during the investigation of both SRC International and 1MDB case) were recorded because she was a part of the 1MDB special task force which investigated the scandal involving the sovereign wealth fund.

“She knew she was a potential witness. My client wouldn’t know but she (Zeti) would know,” said Muhammad Shafee.

Wrapping up his submissions, Muhammad Shafee said the court needed to be conscious of the citizens' right to freedom of speech under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and whether this was a contempt of court.

Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib argued that another article which carried Zeti's interview was euromoney.com, and it focused on economic issues.

“Nothing in this whole article amounts to a personal attack on Najib, and the second article published on theedgemarkets.com was Zeti's response to a claim by Najib made in a recent interview.

“Tan Sri Zeti was responding to a statement made about her. She was not even listed as a witness at the material time. This is a clear case of contempt. We move the court to give a warning so this does not happen again,” he added.

Najib, in his Facebook post, has urged Zeti to respond to a blog post claiming that her family had received RM100 million from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, which included 1MDB funds.

Najib, 67, faces 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. The trial continues on Feb 8. - Bernama