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'Public discussion of Najib's graft case won't prejudice trial'

Published:  |  Modified:

Malaysia does not practice the jury system, therefore public discussion of ex-premier Najib Razak's graft case would not affect him getting a fair trial, said Iskandar Puteri MP's political secretary Syahredzan Johan.

He said there is no question of Najib's right to a fair trial, but the people also have a right to freedom of the media.

“Because Malaysia doesn't follow the practice of a jury system, media reports and public discussion about the case will not influence or interfere with the trial itself.

“It should not prejudice Najib's right as an accused to be given a fair trial,” he said in a statement today.

Syahredzan said in the event anything prejudices the trial, Najib has defamation and contempt of court as his recourse.

He lauded the court decision denying a gag order on the proceedings as a victory for freedom of speech and a recognition of the important role a free media plays in the “new Malaysia”.

“(The gag order) goes against the principle of media freedom, where the media has freedom to report and air views on certain issues without hindrance.

“It must be remembered in a democratic country, the media plays a role as the 'fourth estate', to check the actions and decisions of public institutions.

“The media is also a vehicle for exchange of information and discourse about public issues,” he said.

Yesterday, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed Najib's application for a gag order on the media and public with regard to discussing the merits of his case.

The former premier is faced with three criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power, all charged in relation to RM42 million which was deposited into his personal accounts from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

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