Najib’s 1MDB trial: Court issues warning against phone use after ringtone incident

Ida Lim
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex October 9, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — The High Court today warned those attending the 1MDB trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak against using their phones, after one rang and interrupted proceedings.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah was stern as he gave the reminder that phones would be confiscated if the incident recurs, with the reminder repeated by the court interpreter.

“Please switch off handphones, if there are sounds again, the court will confiscate and further action will be taken,” the court interpreter had said.

The phone that rang belonged to an attendee seated in the first row typically reserved for Najib’s family and supporters.

She was seated in front of a bilingual notice for phones to be switched off and for those present to be seated politely.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram remarked that similar incidents in the UK would have seen the individual involved cited for contempt of court.

Such interruptions are rare as those in court are usually quiet.

Strict regulations have been imposed for Najib’s trial, including the need to register for the courtroom’s entry passes and police screening with metal detectors.

The public and media personnel are also required to maintain strict etiquette during court proceedings, with the media however allowed the use of electronic gadgets to take notes of proceedings.

Najib’s ongoing 1MDB trial involves 25 criminal charges — four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.

Today is Day 19 of the trial, and the cross-examination of the ninth prosecution witness Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi will resume this afternoon.

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