Judge Collin Sequerah made the cautionary call after defence counsel calls out portal for misrepresentation in reporting of the MACC officer’s statement on the various transactions purportedly from 1MDB or Tanore
KUALA LUMPUR – The trial judge in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has cautioned the media to ensure that their reporting of the trials are in proper perspective after Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah objected to a portal’s report of the trial today.
FMT today reported that Najib denied 1MDB CEO access to US$3bil in funds, based on the testimony by MACC investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin.
Shafee said the defence’s objections to the veracity of Nur Aida’s evidence, alleged as hearsay, and opinions or conclusions should be made by the trial judge, Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
1MDB CEO Did Not Have Access
The senior lawyer said that his colleague Tania Scivetti had made an objection to Nur Aida’s testimony that the former prime minister had not allowed 1MDB’s CEO at the time to access US$3 billion (RM14.2 billion) of funds raised by 1MDB to develop the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX).
Shafee complained that the portal’s report did not note the objection made, and this may give the impression that the statement made by Nur Aida was true.
“This is unfair and jaundiced reporting that is unbecoming of the writer as he merely quoted the witness (Nur Aida) on what she said,” Shafee said, pointing out that he had complained about this from the first day of her testimony beginning this month.
He said that he may take action for contempt or for a gag order against reporters in a separate room where they are following the trial.
“If reporters cannot behave themselves and become impartial in their reporting then they could not be involved in correspondence,” Shafee said.
This led Collin, who is a Court of Appeal judge presiding over the trial at the High Court, to caution reporters of proper perspective in their reports.
“Obviously, I (the court) cannot direct the manner they ought to report. However, the statement I can make (as a judge) is to give proper perspective that transpired in the trial. You (the media) ought to have placed the report in proper perspective and note the objection on the grounds of hearsay,” Collin reminded.
“This raises the believability or the veracity that is yet to be tested and that is a determination for me (the court) to make,” the judge added.
Since Nur Aida began to testify on Jan 2, Najib’s defence has continuously objected to her testimony on the basis that her conclusions amount to hearsay.
This back and forth objection and Judge’s ruling continued during this afternoon’s session which prompted the judge to call for a stand down at 4.30 pm and for both the defence and prosecution to sit down and go through the witness statement to ensure that both parties agree to the whole statement without any more objections.
He urged both parties to clear this by Friday and for the trial to resume on Friday morning. – NMH
Datin Hasnah is the co-founder and CEO of New Malaysia Herald based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
With an extensive background in mass communication and journalism, she works on building up New Malaysia Herald and it’s partner sites. A tireless and passionate evangalist, she champions autism studies and support groups.
Datin Hasnah is also the Editor in Chief of New Malaysia Herald.