Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram dies, aged 79

(FMT) – Former Federal Court judge and senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram has died at the age of 79.

His death was confirmed by a source to FMT.

He was previously reported to have been warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

An aide said Sri Ram was admitted to the private hospital on Jan 15 to be treated for a lung infection.

He was the lead prosecutor in the 1MDB corruption trial involving former prime minister Najib Razak.

He was also the lead prosecutor for the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project corruption case involving Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.

Sri Ram, who returned to practice law after his retirement from the bench in 2010, was appointed in 2018 by then attorney-general Tommy Thomas to lead the prosecution in the 1MDB-related cases and Rosmah’s graft case.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million in 2020 after he was convicted on seven charges brought against him for abuse of power, money laundering, and criminal breach of trust (CBT) over SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.

His conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal in December 2021 and affirmed by the Federal Court last August.

Sri Ram was also leading the prosecution in Najib’s 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited into his AmBank accounts.

He was also the lead prosecutor in the 1MDB audit tampering case involving Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

On Sept 1 last year, Rosmah was found guilty of all three counts of corruption in connection with the RM1.25 billion project to provide solar hybrid energy to 369 schools in rural Sarawak.

She was sentenced to 10 years in jail for each of the three charges and ordered to pay a RM970 million fine. She has filed an appeal against her conviction and sentence, and her appeal is pending in the Court of Appeal.

As a lawyer, Sri Ram also represented Anwar Ibrahim in his final appeal for allegedly sodomising former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

He took over the brief at the last minute in 2015 when Anwar’s other lawyer, Sulaiman Abdullah, was taken ill.

Born on Aug 16, 1943 in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Ram was a teacher before he left the country to read law in the United Kingdom.

He practiced law between 1970 and 1994 and has the distinction of being promoted straight to the Court of Appeal when that tier of the court was set up.

He wrote about 800 judgments while sitting in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court between 1994 and 2010.

He also wrote landmark judgments in criminal, constitutional, administrative, and commercial cases.

Sri Ram, who returned to private practice after retiring in 2010, was known to deliver ex-tempore (on the spot) judgments, embodying the principle that justice delayed is justice denied.

During his time on the bench he endeavoured to “make sure the streams of justice flowed pure and swift”.

He is survived by his widow, Chandra Sri Ram, and their two children, a lawyer and a doctor.