The High Court has allowed the adjournment of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1MDB trial over fears that his lead counsel came in contact with a suspected COVID-19 case
In yesterday's proceeding, 12 March, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's lawyer Noor Farhah Mustaffa was the only one present at the entire bench allocated for the defence team, reported The Star.
Farhah told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that Shafee was in close contact with a family member who has been asked to undergo testing for the coronavirus disease.
Farhah said Shafee's sister-in-law, who works in Sirim Berhad, sat beside a colleague infected with COVID-19
"Shafee had come into close contact with his sister-in-law on Saturday, 7 March, during a family get-together and he was advised to go for a check-up," Farhah told High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah, reported New Straits Times.
"He has since been placed on self-quarantine."
Furthermore, Farhah told the court that medical practitioners have ordered the entire 1MDB defence team or all employees in Shafee's legal firm to undergo quarantine, reported Malaysiakini.
Following the explanation provided by the defence team, lead deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram did not object to the adjournment request
He said he was ordered to be tested for COVID-19 as well because he was in close contact with Patients Under Investigation (PUI).
"I am scheduled for a second test tomorrow. I can understand the concern due to the speed of the virus spreading," added Gopal, who is also a former federal court judge.
After hearing from both sides, High Court judge Sequerah said in jest that COVID-19 is spreading faster than the progress of the 1MDB trial, a witty remark that elicited laughter from all those present in court.
The defence team was ordered to produce official letters from the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the Ministry of Health to prove their self-quarantine claim
This morning, 13 March, Farhah presented the letters to the court. The letters said the Ministry of Health has ordered Shafee to undergo quarantine until the test result is out, reported New Straits Times.
In light of that, the High Court has allowed a break for the 1MDB trial and tentatively set 19 March to reconvene.
Najib is currently facing 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited into his personal bank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.
On Wednesday, a Netflix documentary about 1MDB featured some fishermen defending the former prime minister:
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