KOMPAS.com – Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak began his 12-year prison sentence on Tuesday, Aug. 23, having been convicted of looting a state investment fund.
Malaysia’s Federal Court unanimously upheld Najib’s conviction and sentence, rejecting the former leader’s final appeal.
Najib was taken to Kajang prison on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur following the verdict.
The former prime minister, who ran the country for nine years, had been out on bail pending appeals since his sentence in 2020.
What did the Federal Court say?
The five-member Federal Court, which is Malaysia’s highest judicial authority, said it found that the High Court’s decision was correct. It added that Najib’s appeal was “devoid of any merits.”
Also read: Najib Razak Found Guilty in Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal
“This is a simple and straightforward case of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering,” Chief Justice Maimun Tuan Mat said.
The justice went on to say that Malaysia’s top court was “unable to conclude that any of the findings of the High Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeal, were perverse or plainly wrong so as to warrant appellate intervention.”
“We agree that the defense is so inherently inconsistent and incredible that it does not raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case,” she said.
Alongside the prison sentence, Najib was also ordered to pay a 210 million ringgit ($46.8 million) fine.
What was Najib convicted of?
He was convicted of looting the 1MDB state development fund. Najib still faces other charges in several ongoing trials, and his wife Rosmah Mansor is also on trial for corruption.
Najib set up the 1MDB shortly after taking power in 2009. Successive governments ramped up investigations after his electoral defeat in 2018.
Najib was found guilty of seven charges of corruption for illegally receiving $9.4 million from former 1MDB unit SRC International.
The conviction means he will lose his parliamentary seat and cannot contest elections.
Also read: Malaysias Najib Starts Final Bid to Overturn 1MDB Jail Sentence
Investigators alleged that at least $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s associates. The scandal led to the opening of investigations in the US and several other countries. Najib said he was “unfairly treated” and that the case had been rushed through.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the verdict was a testament to the rule of law, praising the justices’ “courageous” decision.
“This is a historic moment for Malaysia, where the most senior leader has actually now faced an unprecedented moment of political accountability,” said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian expert at Malaysia’s Nottingham University, as cited by the AP news agency.
“For this decision, which is the first of many cases involving this particular scandal, to move in this particular direction really is a testimony to the rule of law in Malaysia, and the strengthening of the demands for the rule of law in Malaysia,” she said.
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