Case should be prioritised, says judge after Rosmah Mansor graft trial postponed due to witness no-show
KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers representing Rosmah Mansor were urged by a High Court judge to give priority to her case, after a witness failed to show up to give evidence in her corruption trial on Friday (Feb 4).
According to Malaysian media reports, judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan had to postpone the trial after the last defence witness to give evidence could not attend the proceedings as she was still in quarantine after an overseas trip.
According to the Star, the hearing which should have entered its final day had to be adjourned as witness Siti Azizah Sheikh Abod was under home surveillance until Saturday (Feb 5).
The witness, 72, was ex-prime minister Najib Razak's special officer in charge of Rosmah's daily programmes as the wife of the then prime minister. The witness went on a minor pilgrimage or Umrah to Mecca last month.
She was the second and final defence witness after Najib was dropped from the witness list while Rosmah was the first witness to testify at the defence trial.
“That changes everything. It was supposed to be the last day of the trial. I accept your explanation.
"I know you are all busy counsels… you have busy matters, but I urge you to write to the courts and adjourn your matters,” Bernama quoted the judge as saying.
“This case is to be given priority. It is a criminal matter and it involves the last witness,” he added.
The judge was told that the witness was initially expected to return on Jan 28 and finish her quarantine on Feb 3.
But Rosmah's lawyer Azrul Zulkifli Stork informed the court that due to flight cancellation and rescheduling, the witness could only come back on Jan 29 and was still undergoing a home supervision and observation order until Feb 5.
The judge accepted the explanation and fixed Feb 15 for the hearing to resume.
He said that the trial must finish on that day before submissions are heard.
Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the judge that the prosecution would only take an hour with its cross-examination.
Rosmah, 69, is facing corruption charges involving a hybrid solar project worth RM1.25 billion (US$300 million) for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.
She was issued with a warning on Dec 2, after she failed to show up in court for a hearing of her bid to nullify the bribery trial and remove the lead prosecutor.
Her lawyers told the court then that Rosmah could not attend the hearing as she had not returned to Malaysia after visiting her daughter in Singapore, who had delivered her second child.
However, the court accepted her lawyers’ explanation and allowed for the proceeding to be adjourned a week later when it rejected Rosmah’s appeal to have her corruption case nullified.