Ex-Malaysian leader Najib disappointed he wasn’t given a full royal pardon for 12-year graft term
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak is disapppinted he wasn’t given a full royal pardon of his 12-year prison sentence for graft, and may file a new appeal to the new monarch, his lawyer said Wednesday.
The decision last week by the Pardons Board to cut in half Najib’s jail term sparked outrage among many Malaysians, who slammed it as a mockery of the justice system and a blow to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s anti-corruption campaign. While the board isn’t required to explain its decision, it triggered calls for transparency in such high profile cases.
Najib, 70, has been serving less than two years of his sentence linked to the theft of billions of dollars from the 1MDB state fund that has sparked investigations in the U.S. and other countries. He is Malaysia’s first leader to be imprisoned after leaving office and still faces a major trial linked to 1MDB.
1MDB was a development fund that Najib set up shortly after taking power in 2009. Investigators allege at least $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s associates through layers of bank accounts in the U.S. and other countries and financed Hollywood films and extravagant purchases that included hotels, a luxury yacht, art and jewelry. More than $700 million landed in Najib’s bank accounts.
His lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, said Najib was disappointed because he felt he wasn’t given a fair trial. He also questioned if there was interference in the Pardons’ Board process, chaired by the former king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Shafee alleged that Sultan Abdullah was initially looking at granting Najib a full pardon during the board’s meeting on Jan. 29. But the king asked members of the board to vote and the result was a commutation of the sentence and fine, he said.
“We are seriously thinking about another petition for pardon, a full pardon,” Shafee told a news conference. “The reason we want to put in another request is that we don’t think the Pardons Board operated the way the constitution expected them to operate. The king merely hears advice but he must then decide on his own.”
Anwar has said the pardon was the prerogative of Sultan Abdullah, who ended his five-year reign under Malaysia’s unique rotating monarch system just a day after the board’s meeting. Abdullah is from Najib’s home state of Pahang. Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, the powerful ruler of southern Johor state, took the throne on Jan. 31 for a five-year term.
Najib was found guilty in 2020 on seven charges of corruption for illegally receiving $9.4 million from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, was also sentenced in 2022 to 10 years in prison and a record fine of 970 million ringgit for corruption involving a solar energy project and is out on bail pending an appeal.
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