PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — Malaysia’s highest court on Tuesday ordered former prime minister Najib Razak to begin his final appeal in two days after rejecting his request to have his corruption conviction and 12-year sentence overturned for alleged judicial bias overturned. .
Najib has sought to present new evidence that would trigger a new trial on the grounds that the High Court judge who convicted him may be biased due to his previous employment at a bank that provided financial services to state fund 1Malaysia. Development Berhad.
1MDB was a development fund that Najib established shortly after he came to power in 2009. Investigators say at least $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s associates. Najib was found guilty of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering for illegally receiving $9.4 million from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
The five-member Federal Court bench unanimously rejected Najib’s request, agreeing with prosecutors that High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali’s background was public knowledge. Nazlan is now a judge in the Court of Appeal.
Chief Justice Maimun Tuan Mat said the court found no connection between Nazlan’s previous role at the bank and the charges against Najib that could lead to a real danger of bias. She also said that some of the additional evidence offered by the defense was already available during the trial and was in no way relevant to the charges.
“We are not satisfied that Judge Nazlan based his findings on anything other than the evidence on file,” she said. “In our view, there is no miscarriage of justice,” as Najib can include the allegation in his latest summit appeal. court, she added.
Najib said after the hearing that he was “shocked and bitterly disappointed”.
“I believe the additional evidence will make it clear that Judge Nazlan was highly conflicted. He was very knowledgeable about the 1MDB and SRC transactions and therefore had extensive personal knowledge of both of these entities,” Najib told reporters. hope that on the final call we will be able to show the truth of the matter.”
Najib, 69, would become the first former Malaysian prime minister to be imprisoned if his appeal fails. He has maintained he is innocent and has been released on bail pending appeals.
In another blow to Najib, the Federal Court ordered the hearing to begin on Thursday. Najib’s new defense team asked for more time to prepare, but the court refused, saying they should have been ready to appear on the agreed date when they took over the case. The court is due to hear his final appeal until August 26.
The 1MDB scandal sparked investigations in the United States and several other countries and led to the downfall of Najib’s government in the 2018 election. Najib faces a total of 42 charges in five separate trials related to 1MDB , and his wife is also on trial for corruption.
Despite his conviction of corruption, Najib remains politically influential. His United Malays National Organization leads the current government after defections by lawmakers caused the collapse of the reformist government that won the 2018 elections.
Najib is still an MP awaiting his appeal, but he cannot run if early legislative elections are called. National polls are not expected until the second half of 2023, but UMNO leaders have strongly called for snap elections.