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Malaysian ex-PM Najib jailed in 1MDB scandal by Supreme Court

#Malaysian #exPM #Najib #jailed #1MDB #scandal #Supreme #Court

Malaysia’s highest court on Tuesday upheld former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 12-year prison sentence for corruption in the 1MDB financial scandal, a decision analysts say could slam the door to a political comeback.

Chief Justice Maimun Tuan Mat also issued an arrest warrant, which a lawyer says means Najib must go to jail immediately.

The 69-year-old former prime minister looked somber and dejected surrounded by his wife Rosmah and two children as the sentence was read.

“We believe the appeal is unfounded. We believe the conviction and the verdict are certain,” Maimun said on behalf of a five-judge panel of the Federal Court of Justice.

“We are unanimous in our belief that the overwhelming majority of evidence at trial resulted in guilt on all seven counts.”

Maimun said: “It would have been a farce of justice at the highest level for a reasonable court, faced with such evidence staring him in the face, to find that the applicant was not guilty of the seven charges against him.”

Sankara Nair, a lawyer not involved in the case, told AFP that “If the court issues an arrest warrant, Najib will be sent to jail immediately.”

The federal court’s decision came after the tribunal rejected a last-minute request by Najib’s lawyers to bar the chief justice from hearing the case, alleging bias.

– voting ban –

Najib is the British-raised son of one of Malaysia’s founding fathers, who was groomed to be prime minister at an early age.

The final decision on the jail term also came four years after his longtime ruling party’s shock election defeat in 2018, during which allegations that he and his friends embezzled billions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB were key campaign issues.

A lower court found Najib guilty in July 2020 of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust for transferring 42 million ringgit (US$10.1 million) from SRC International, a former entity of the state fund 1MDB, to his personal bank account.

An appeals court rejected his appeal in December, prompting him to go to federal court for a final appeal.

Some analysts said the decision is likely to scuttle all of Najib’s plans for a political comeback.

“If Najib is found guilty, he will be barred from running in the next elections. Obviously his political career is over,” James Chin, a professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania, told AFP ahead of the sentencing.

“Under Malaysian law, Najib cannot stand as a candidate in this election and the next election,” he said, referring to speculation that elections could be held this year.

Elections are not due until September next year.

Najib and his ruling party were voted out in 2018 after they were accused of involvement in a multi-billion dollar financial scandal at 1MDB.

He and his associates have been accused of stealing billions of dollars from the country’s investment vehicle and spending it on everything from high-end real estate to expensive art.

Despite the lower court’s verdict, he had not been jailed during the appeals process.

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