News Karnataka
Thursday, April 25 2024

Ex-Malay PM denied adjournment of hearings

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Kuala Lumpur: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s attempt to overturn his corruption conviction dealt with an early blow after the country’s Court of Appeal refused his request for a one-month adjournment of the hearings, which started on Monday.

Judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said there was insufficient grounds to postpone the hearings after Najib’s defense team sought several bank statements and communications records from the prosecution, reports DPA news agency.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail on July 28, 2020, at the end of the first of five trials related to large-scale graft during his nine years as premier, which ended in a shock defeat in the 2018 elections fought in part over the scandals.

He was found guilty of money laundering, abuse of office and breach of trust after almost 10 million dollars were allegedly stolen from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, a state fund set up in 2009.

Twelve days of hearings are scheduled for this month, with Najib submitting 307 grounds for appeal of the sentence, which included a fine of 210 million ringgit ($50 million).

His lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told media at the court on Monday that the judge who found Najib guilty was not experienced enough.

“One would expect a senior judge, with experience in criminal matters, to be sent,” he said.

Up to $4.5 billion could have been looted from 1MDB, according to the US Department of Justice, which has repatriated hundreds of millions of dollars to Malaysia after recovering assets, including Picasso artwork and a luxury yacht, it said were purchased with money stolen from the fund.

One of Najib’s other ongoing trials centres on allegations he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund, money he has claimed was a donation from Saudi Arabia.

Najib is free on bail, pending the appeal, and remains an MP for the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the biggest party in the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin was Najib’s deputy premier before being fired in 2015 after criticising him over the corruption accusations.

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