Najib Razak has been convicted of all 7 charges by the High Court today. The high profile trial is the first in a series of cases involving the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
The charges include one count of abuse of power, three counts of money laundering, and three counts criminal breach of trust (CBT) amounting to RM42 million. Each charge carries up to 15-20 years in jail along with fines that total 5 times the amount of bribery.
Since Najib is above 50 years old, he is not liable for whipping – which is part of the punishment for CBT under the law.
High Court judge, Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali, said when reading the judgment,
“I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I therefore find the accused guilty and convict the accused on all seven charges.”
As the judgement was being read to him, Najib was seen sitting calmly with an inflatable cushion against his back for support.
While this was happening, his supporters, wearing “Bossku” t-shirts, gathered outside the court and chanted his name along with the mantra “Hidup Bossku!” and “Malu Apa Bossku?” – a nod to Najib’s infamous rebranding post-GE14.
There were no signs of social distancing despite the fact that over 1,000 people were gathering in one confined space. This came as a shock to many, for only a few months ago, several front-liners were arrested for unionising outside of a hospital, despite following SOPs, while many businesses are still being fined for not enforcing social distancing or SOPs today.
67 yr old Najib Razak has arrived as supporters cheered . Many are kept outside Duta court complex as only those with valid passes are allowed in. Social distancing is non existence . Many aren’t even wearing masks 😷 #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/Vvex7331u7
— Melissa Goh (@MelGohCNA) July 28, 2020
As of right now, Najib faces two more trials for his role in the 1MDB scandal. His sentencing has been postponed to a later date. He is the only Malaysian former prime minister to be convicted in criminal court.
Bridget Welsh, an expert on Malaysia and honorary research fellow with the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute Malaysia said that this conviction will send a message to the elite and hold them accountable for any wrongdoings they have done. She stated,
“It will also send a very important signal about whether leaders will be held to account for what they do while in office, as well as the penalties for elites abusing the system.”
Prior to the trial, Najib maintained a calm demeanour, oozing confidence through his series of posts on social media. Most of his posts on Instagram showed the ex-PM in high-spirits despite the looming trial that would change the fabric of Malaysian politics.
Before the trial, he uploaded the photo below onto his Facebook page. In the caption, he said, “This is my chance to clear my name.”
Despite the breakthrough, James Chin, an expert of Malaysian politics and professor of Asian studies at University of Tasmania, has said that the guilty verdict could be overturned on appeal. He stated,
“People should not be celebrating, because in the Malaysian context, many of the judgments in these political cases get reversed in the appeals court,”
Najib’s attorney is currently appealing for a lighter sentence. His defence being, “He hasn’t even gotten a traffic summon before.”
Let’s hold our breath and wait for the sentencing due to happen on August 3.
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