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Malaysia’s Najib loses bid to serve corruption sentence in house arrest | Corruption News

Malaysia’s Najib loses bid to serve corruption sentence in house arrest | Corruption News

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Jailed former leader claimed the Malaysian king issued a royal order authorising his transfer to house arrest.

A court in Malaysia has dismissed a bid by jailed former Prime Minister Najib Razak to serve his remaining prison sentence under house arrest.

The decision on Wednesday came in response to a judicial review application filed by Najib on April 1 that said he had clear information that then-King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah issued an “addendum order” allowing him to finish his corruption sentence under house arrest.

Najib claimed the addendum was issued during a January 29 pardons board meeting chaired by Sultan Abdullah, which also cut his 12-year jail sentence for graft in the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal by half and sharply reduced a fine.

The former prime minister had sought for the court to compel the government to reply to or confirm the existence of the royal order, which he said would entitle him to serve the remainder of his term under house arrest, and to execute the order if it existed.

In a copy of the judgement released to media on Wednesday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found there was no arguable case warranting a full hearing of Najib’s application.

Judge Amarjeet Singh described affidavits filed by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and another high-ranking politician from Najib’s party, saying they had seen a copy of the royal order as hearsay, and said the government had no legal duty to respond to the application.

Najib planned to appeal the decision, his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters.

“The court said there is no legal duty but in terms of ethics, the government should have answered,” Shafee said.

The pardons board that halved Najib’s term was chaired by King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, whose five-year reign as head of state ended in January. Sultan Abdullah hails from Najib’s hometown in Pahang.

In his application, Najib has accused the pardons board, home minister, attorney general and four others of concealing the sultan’s order “in bad faith”.

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he had no knowledge of such an order as he was not a member of the pardons board. The others named in Najib’s application have not made any public comments.

Shafee said Najib’s application was not based on hearsay but that there was “digital evidence” of the addendum as Trade Minister Zafrul Aziz had taken a snapshot of it on his mobile phone when told by Sultan Abdullah. He said the government’s silence also implied there is such an addendum order.

“One thing is clear, not one person or any government institutions have said that this addendum doesn’t exist. If it doesn’t exist, just say so. If the government dare say clearly there is no addendum, we can all go home and sleep,” he said.

Najib was found guilty in 2020 of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power for illegally receiving funds misappropriated from a unit of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The verdict was upheld by Malaysia’s top court in 2022.

Malaysian and United States investigators estimate $4.5bn was stolen from 1MDB and more than $1bn channelled to accounts linked to Najib.

The former prime minister served less than two years of his sentence before it was commuted by the pardons board. His sentence is now due to end on August 23, 2028.

The pardons board did not give any reason for its decision and was not required to explain. But the move has prompted a public outcry on why Najib appeared to be given special privileges compared with other prisoners.

The Malaysian Bar, which represents more than 20,000 lawyers, filed an application to challenge the pardons board decision that it said was illegal, unconstitutional and invalid. It said the decision made a mockery of Najib’s other ongoing criminal cases linked to the 1MDB scandal.

The hearing for the Bar’s challenge started this week.

 



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