By Aathi Shankar
The much-awaited Najib-1MDB trial kicked-started here yesterday, Wednesday, August 28, 2019 with a powerful opening statement by the ad hoc lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
He has alleged that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s mirror image was fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.
“In truth, Jho Low was the accused’s mirror image,” the former Federal Court judge said before the Kuala Lumpur High Court Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah,
He said the prosecution would establish facts to give rise to an irresistible inference that Jho Low and the accused acted like one at all material times.
Gopal insisted that said Jho Low was a key figure in the scandal and was Najib’s “alter ego” through it all.
“The prosecution will prove that the accused, by his words and conduct, made it clear to 1MDB’s officers, its board and others that Jho Low was his alter ego.”
On Sept 20, 2018, Najib was charged with 25 counts of corruption involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB money.
His first four charges were framed under sections 23(1) and 24(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009; while the other 21 charges were under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (AMLATFA).
For the charges under the MACC Act, the 66-year-old was accused of using his position as prime minister, finance minister and chairman of the 1MDB advisory board at the time, to receive bribes on four occasions.
The money-laundering charges involved nine counts of receiving illegal proceeds, five counts of using illegal proceeds and seven counts of transferring the proceeds to other entities.
The Pekan MP is alleged to have committed the offences at the AmIslamic Bank Bhd at No 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon between 2011 and 2014.
Merging Najib and Jho Low into a single corrupt person was not only an ill-conceived political statement by Gopal.
It also implies that the country’s law enforcers could be making false accusations against Pekan MP Najib.
If Jho Low was supposedly the mirror image of Najib, is the prosecution implying that the former premier was being charged over crimes committed by another person?
If Jho Low was an integral part of 1MDB case, he should take his stand at least as a witness, if not as co-accused.
But until today, the country’s law enforcers have failed to locate him, let alone bring him back to Malaysia to face the trial.
That remains a mystery.
Najib has the right to have a fair trial and Jho Low is pivotal to it, hence must be back to testify.
The prosecution case would fail without Jho Low’s testimony.
But Gopal’s team is going ahead without the key witness.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has piled up a total 42 charges against Najib to keep him busy in the court and sustain a favourable public opinion.
Many Malaysians already believed that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Attorney-General Chambers had fixed up Najib with trumped-up charges, not only in 1MDB but also in the just concluded SRC International’s trial.
Many commentators in the social media have concurred that Najib was being charged with multiple allegations to vilify him as a guilty person before the court of public opinion.
PH wants to win the public opinion by insinuating that Najib was being slapped with multiple charges because he was guilty of misappropriation of funds.
Or else, he would not have been charged in the first place, isn’t it not?
Never mind if Najib did receive a genuine political donation from the Saudi royal family.
PH is only interested in crucifying a person, even without tenable evidence, in a court of public opinion, hence the perception game.
Hopefully, the Najib-1MDB trial is not being heard in a kangaroo court before a hanging judge.