Rosmah takes the witness stand in RM1.25b solar hybrid project corruption trial

The 69-year-old wearing a pink baju kurung and matching selendang arrived at 10am, accompanied by her aide. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

The 69-year-old wearing a pink baju kurung and matching selendang arrived at 10am, accompanied by her aide. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

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The 69-year-old wearing a pink baju kurung and matching selendang arrived at 10am, accompanied by her aide. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 5): Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor started testifying in her defence in the High Court here on Tuesday over three graft charges in relation to the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

The 69-year-old wearing a pink baju kurung and matching selendang arrived at 10am, accompanied by her aide.

Rosmah is testifying from the witness stand, which means she can be cross-examined by the prosecution after she gives her testimony. The trial is fixed to go on until Thursday.

Her testimony comes after her lawyers did not manage to obtain a stay of proceedings on Monday from the Court of Appeal where Justice Datuk Kamaludin Md Said ruled that the appellate court was bound by the Federal Court decision in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's case where an application to declare the trial a nullity should not be considered for a stay.

“Furthermore, the appellant (Rosmah) would not be prejudiced if she testifies,” the appellate court ruled.

Rosmah took her oath in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Rosmah, who is the wife of Najib, is charged with soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe out of the RM1.25 billion project that was awarded to then Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin between January and April 2016 through her aide Datuk Rizal Mansor.

She also faces two charges of receiving a total of RM6.5 million — RM1.5 million and RM5 million respectively — from Saidi between Dec 20, 2016 and Sept 7, 2017 at her official residence in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya and her private residence in Jalan Langgak Duta here.

Rosmah is represented by Datuk Jagjit Singh, Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader and Azrul Zulkifli Storke.

The prosecution is led by senior Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, DPPs Ahmad Akram Gharib and Poh Yin Tinn.

The hearing before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan on Tuesday started with Akberdin reading his opening statement where the defence denied that their client was involved in any of the charges.

“We deny the charges as there is no report lodged by Saidi or [his former partner] Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah regarding this matter.

“It was Rizal who was the 'dalang' (culprit) in this matter where he abused his position for his own benefit. She (Rosmah) denied accepting the money as alleged. It was Rizal who took the money.

“She (Rosmah) did not have the power to approve a project. This is a mala fide prosecution against her,” Akberdin added.

It is Rosmah's defence that she did not solicit for the bribe or receive the money, said the lawyer.

“The accused has no knowledge of the whole incident, and it was Rizal who was a former aide to the [then] prime minister and was the culprit,” Akberdin added.

The irony, he said, is that Rizal, who had initially been charged along with the accused, was given a discharge and testified against her.

“She did not ask for herself the money as alleged or the money received for which she is facing the charges,” Akberdin added.

The lawyer said the meeting with Saidi at Rosmah's Jalan Langgak Duta home was not pre-arranged as she did not instruct Rizal for them to meet her.

There was no acceptance of the money, the lawyer said, adding that what happened was Saidi showed a well project for rural schools in Sarawak for Rosmah to bring it to Najib's attention.

“She clearly rejected any offer. She did not receive the RM5 million or RM1.5 million for Jepak to get the project,” the lawyer said.

“The allegation of two big luggages containing the money of RM5 million being brought to Seri Perdana is clearly denied. It was Rizal who pocketed the money and there was no handover of the money,” Akberdin said.

Rosmah's defence, the lawyer said, is that she did not procure the needed minutes from her husband in order for Jepak to get the project.

“All the minutes were obtained by the Umno Pekan secretary. She has been made a scapegoat over this. This is a selective prosecution, mala fide prosecution in this case, where else the actual culprit is Rizal,” the lawyer said.

Akberdin alleged that the prosecution had cut a deal with Rizal to implicate Rosmah and there is no basis for the prosecution.

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Ex-aide was the one who solicited and received bribes for solar project, claims Rosmah

Kang Siew Li