Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, began serving his 12-year prison sentence on Tuesday after losing his final appeal in a corruption case involving the embezzlement of the 1MDB state fund. The supreme court, in unanimity, upheld his conviction and punishment. He was the first former prime minister to receive a prison sentence four years after being charged with corruption after losing an election.
After losing his final appeal in a corruption case related to the theft of the 1MDB state fund, the former prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, started serving his 12-year prison sentence on Tuesday. The top court unanimously upheld his conviction and sentence.
Immediately following the decision, Najib, 69, was taken to Kajang prison on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Four years after being accused of corruption after being ousted from office in an election, he became the first ex-prime minister to be sentenced to prison.
According to the five-member Federal Court panel, Najib’s appeal was “devoid of any grounds,” which determined that the High Court judge made the correct decision. Chief Justice Maimun Tuan Mat gave the verdict and stated, “This is a simple and straightforward case of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering.”
“We cannot conclude that any of the High Court’s findings, as upheld by the Court of Appeal, were perverse or simply incorrect enough to call for appellate intervention. We concur that the defence is so contradictory and unbelievable that it does not cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s evidence, she added.
The court ruled that Najib should start serving his prison sentence immediately. He has been out on bail since his conviction in 2020 while appealing his conviction. He additionally owes a 210 million ringgit ($47 million) fine. As soon as he came into power in 2009, Najib established the 1MDB development fund.
Authorities assert that Najib’s cronies stole and laundered at least $4.5 billion from the fund. As a result of collecting $9.4 million illegally from SRC International, a former division of 1MDB, Najib was found guilty in 2020 of seven counts of corruption.
The innocence of Najib has been upheld. He stood up in the dock just before the decision was made to express his displeasure with the high court’s repeated refusals to adjourn the appeal proceedings last week.
Najib stated that he believed he had been “unfairly treated” and that his case had been processed quickly. According to him, if a leaked Federal Court judgement had been uploaded online, it would constitute “judicial malpractice of the highest order.”
He brought up the fact that this had happened. The appeal hearings, according to Maimun, were adjourned due to Najib’s newly appointed attorneys’ adamant refusal to present any new justifications for their dismissal due to lack of preparation time.
Following the reading of the judgement, Najib displayed shock. His family and friends surrounded him right away. Later, his attorney told reporters that they might ask the court to have its judgement reviewed.
According to Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian specialist at Nottingham University in Malaysia, “this is a historic moment for Malaysia when the most senior leader has now confronted an unprecedented moment of political accountability.”
“The fact that this decision, which is the first of many cases regarding this specific issue, is moving in this particular route is truly a testimonial to the rule of law in Malaysia and the strengthening of the demands for the rule of law in Malaysia,” said one observer.
When Maimun’s spouse posted a critical comment about Najib’s leadership on Facebook immediately after his defeat in the 2018 general elections, Najib attempted to remove Maimun from the case earlier on Tuesday, claiming that she might be biassed. Najib’s application, however, was denied by the judges.
Additionally, the Federal Court rejected Najib’s request for a new trial on the grounds that the High Court judge was biased last week. The court also declined to delay the appeal so that his new attorneys could prepare. The court also dismissed a request for Najib’s new attorney to leave the case.
Maimun, who was appointed as Malaysia’s first female chief justice in 2019, has come under fire from Najib’s supporters on social media. Over the weekend, police detained a guy concerning threats against Maimun, including death.
Hundreds of Najib’s fans came to show their support outside the court. According to a later statement from the Federal Court office, the decision released online was an earlier draught.
It stated that the court had reported the leak to the police and launched an internal investigation into it.
The prison sentence will solidify Najib’s decline in standing. Najib, who received his education in Britain, was raised among Malaysia’s political elite. His father served as the nation’s second prime minister, and his uncle was the third.
After his father passed away in 1976, he was forced into politics and became Malaysia’s youngest lawmaker at 22. Two years later, he became the youngest deputy minister in history. As a reformer, he was elected prime minister in 2009.
Still, his tenure was marred by the 1MDB crisis, which led to investigations in the United States and several other nations and ultimately led to the overthrow of his administration.
In five distinct cases connected to 1MDB, Najib is accused of 42 offences, and his wife is also on trial for alleged corruption. Najib has a sizable social media following and continues to hold political sway. After the reformist government that had won the 2018 elections collapsed due to legislator defections, the current administration was governed by his United Malays National Organization.