Drama during Najib's SRC trial: Recap on selfie denial, first birthday in court and more (VIDEO)

Ida Lim
Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 6, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak's first-ever trial over alleged corruption and power abuse made history as he became the first former prime minister in Malaysia to face criminal charges, but is also notable for the drama that unfolded both inside and outside the courtroom.

In the first of his five cases to go on trial, Najib is accused of a total of seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering, and abuse of position in his capacity then as prime minister and finance minister over RM42 million of 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Najib's SRC trial has so far stretched for almost 60 days that were spread out from April 3 until October 23, and today will be when High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali decides if Najib will have to present his defence to the seven charges.

But before that, here is Malay Mail's chronological recap of the dramatic events that took place during the SRC trial:

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex May 29, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

1. Books showcase

Amid a relatively small show of support from supporters, Najib started the practice of bringing books with him to the dock from Day Two (April 15) of the trial, with the books focused on topics ranging from the economy, geopolitics to tips for success.

In a surreal moment on Day Four of the trial (April 17), Najib's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh read out in court  excerpts from the Billion Dollar Whale book regarding the 1MDB scandal.

The excerpt read out included an alleged communication in 2014 where a Malaysian banker assured financier Low Taek Jho that Najib's credit card limit was still US$1 million when the credit card was allegedly used for a US$130,625 bill in a store under luxury brand Chanel in Hawaii.

2. Video leak on Facebook

On April 19, Najib's former special officer Isham Jalil posted on Facebook a 2.14-minute video clip of court proceedings from the fifth day of trial along with his own comments on the prosecution's case and in defence of Najib, which resulted in police launching investigations.

Isham posted on April 20 another video clip of court proceedings that was 31-seconds long, defending his own actions in doing so by arguing that the videos were from the court's Court Recording Transcription (CRT) system.

The High Court then said that the prohibition of public sharing of video footage of court proceedings also extends to CRT recordings, and that such CRT recordings are only provided to Najib's lawyers and the prosecution's lawyers for transcription purposes.

The judge also said that the court may stop providing CRT recordings to both sides if the incident recurs, and warned the public against making prejudicial comments on the trial as it may be considered contempt of court.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak checks his phone at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex May 29, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

3. Selfie denial

On May 9, which was also the one-year anniversary of Najib's coalition Barisan Nasional's defeat in the 2018 elections, he was reported allegedly taking a "selfie" with his smartphone in the courtroom while his trial was going on.

Najib however denied taking a selfie and claimed that he was merely checking his appearance with his smartphone as a mirror, leading to the judge's reminder that taking selfies during court proceedings borders on contempt of court.

The judge also pointed out that most would know that photography is prohibited in the courtroom, adding that anyone who does so in the future may have to surrender their phones to the police during court proceedings.

4. Shopping and karaoke

On May 10, Najib made a visit to Sandakan in Sabah as he kept active in the public sphere. This was Friday where no trial was scheduled, and just a day after the one-year anniversary of BN's GE14 defeat and also just after trial the previous day.

On this day which was also just before the Sandakan by-election's voting day, Najib was spotted shopping at a local hypermarket before entertaining the crowd gathered with an impromptu karaoke session.

5. Rosmah's visit

Individuals such as former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were sighted dropping by on the days they have to appear at the Kuala Lumpur court complex for their own court cases.

But perhaps the most memorable visit to the courtroom where Najib's trial is heard would be the rare and brief one made by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor while proceedings were ongoing on June 18.

The prosecution highlighted to the judge that Rosmah was a potential witness in the case, which led to her voluntarily leaving the courtroom before the judge made any decisions regarding her presence.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is seen here at the Kuala Lumpur court complex with her lawyers June 18, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

6. Najib defends himself on Facebook on RM3.3m credit card bills

Just hours after a senior bank officer told the court that two Platinum credit cards under Najib's name were used for a RM3.3 million bill at a Swiss jeweller's Italian outlet in 2014, Najib took to Facebook on July 15 to claim that the money was used to buy gifts for a foreign royalty when his family was visiting Italy.

Najib on July 17 made another Facebook post to claim that the gift recipient was a "queen" from another country while saying that he would not be able to explain further as the trial was ongoing.

The prosecution had then asked Najib to apologise to the court for attempting to present his defence and comments through social media on evidence in the ongoing trial, instead of waiting to do so if he is called to enter defence in court.

The High Court subsequently warned that any comments on evidence presented during the trial was bordering on contempt of court, and advised Najib to seek his lawyers' advice in the future before making comments on evidence and testimonies during the trial.

7. An MP but also an accused

Najib's initial attempt to get a day off from trial to attend Parliament was rejected on July 1, as the judge noted that it was uncertain when the important Bills that the Pekan MP wanted to vote on would come up during the weeks-long Dewan Rakyat sitting and as he was not prevented from attending Parliament when court is not in session.

The High Court later allowed Najib to have his trial on July 16 end earlier in the morning, to enable the latter to attend Parliament to debate and vote on the Undi18 Bill to lower Malaysia's voting age from 21 to 18 years old.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is greeted with cheers and a chocolate cake for his 66th birthday at the lobby of the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex July 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

8. First birthday in court during trial

On July 23, Najib's supporters greeted him at the Kuala Lumpur court complex on his 66th birthday with a birthday song as well as a cake, which he then sliced and ate after blowing out the solitary candle.

This small birthday celebration for Najib took place on Day 42 of his trial, and is the first such celebration at the courts for him.

Police cordon off the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex with yellow tape following a bomb threat July 25, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

9. Bomb scare

Just two days later after turning 66, Najib's trial was briefly interrupted at around 12.30pm on July 25 due to a bomb scare that resulted in the entire Kuala Lumpur court complex being evacuated.

Trial resumed in the afternoon after the police's bomb squad and K-9 unit searched the court complex and found no explosives. The police determined that the anonymous phone call earlier that day of an alleged bomb in the courts was a hoax.

10. Eye infection

On August 14, Najib's SRC trial was postponed after he called in sick with infectious conjunctivitis or an eye infection with a three-day medical certificate.

At that time, the trial was nearing the tail end of the prosecution's case. A recurrence of Najib's eye issues have so far led to two other instances of postponements in his separate trial in connection to more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.

Whatever the High Court decides today in Najib's SRC case, he will still have four other criminal cases to face, including the ongoing 1MDB trial over 25 charges that is being heard today.

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