Malaysia’s Mahathir says imprisoned Najib ‘very likely’ will get royal pardon

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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks to reporters outside the Federal Court during a judicial break, in Putrajaya, Malaysia August 23, 2022. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Veteran Malaysian politician Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday that disgraced former prime minister Najib Razak, whom he helped bring down, was likely to be given a royal pardon and released from jail. a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. that he started this week.

Mahathir, whose historic election victory in 2018 triggered Najib’s downfall, said delays in various trials related to the multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) would lead to a denial of justice .

Najib was first convicted in 2020 but he appealed to higher courts. On Tuesday, the country’s highest court rejected his final appeal and upheld his 12-year prison sentence and a 210 million ringgit ($46.88 million) fine for illegally receiving $10 million from a unit of 1MDB. Read more

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“For Najib, it is highly likely that he will be pardoned after being incarcerated,” the 97-year-old said in a statement.

He did not specify.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah’s palace, which had received a pardon request from Najib loyalists a day earlier, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mahathir’s remark.

Najib is believed to be close to some members of Malaysia’s royal family, and in May Najib’s social media posts showed him attending Eid celebrations with the king.

But, so far, there is no indication how the palace would respond to a pardon request from Najib, who held power for nine years until 2018.

There has also been no sign yet of how Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would consider a pardon for his former party leader, as he seeks to rehabilitate the image of the United Malay National Organization ( UMNO) in power.

After being sent to jail on Tuesday after losing his final appeal in one of the smaller cases related to the embezzlement of money from the state fund he co-founded in 2009, Najib was back in court Thursday for a hearing in the biggest case. .

He was brought from the Kajang prison complex in the southeast of the capital to the Kuala Lumpur High Court in a black police car under tight security and taken into the courtroom through a private entrance.

Najib sat in the dock, dressed in a dark suit and tie, as the hearing began.

The charges against him in the case include 21 counts of money laundering and four counts of abuse of power for allegedly receiving illegal transfers of at least 2.3 billion ringgit ($512.93 million) between 2011 and 2014.

Najib also faces three other cases, all of which carry prison terms and heavy financial penalties.

Malaysian and American investigators say $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB, in a scandal that has implicated financial institutions and senior officials around the world. More than a billion dollars were found in Najib’s bank accounts.

The former Prime Minister is also at risk of bankruptcy, which cannot be forgiven and which would prevent him from running for office.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing and portrayed himself as the victim of a political vendetta by his former mentor.

Mahathir was already Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister when he retired in 2003 after 22 years at the helm. He campaigned for Najib and UMNO in the 2013 elections, but turned against his former protege when the scale of corruption at 1MDB began to emerge.

Leading an opposition alliance of unlikely bedfellows, the nonagenarian Mahathir defeated the UMNO-led coalition, removing it from power for the first time since Malaysia was formed six decades earlier.

Reinstalled as prime minister, Mahathir reopened investigations into 1MDB, leading Najib to face a total of 42 charges. Mahathir then resigned amid political turmoil as his alliance fell apart.

($1 = 4.4800 ringgit)

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Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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