Laws and Justice

Najib's House Arrest Bid Denied, Legal Battle Erupts Over Sentence Commutation

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Najib's House Arrest Request Denied, Legal Battle Continues

A Malaysian court has dismissed former Prime Minister Najib Razak's request to serve the remainder of his corruption sentence under house arrest. Najib, currently imprisoned for his role in the 1MDB scandal, claimed that the former King, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, had issued an order allowing him to finish his sentence at home.

Najib's application, filed in April, alleged that this addendum order was made during a January 29th pardons board meeting, reducing his 12-year jail sentence by half and significantly lowering his fine. However, the High Court ruled that the government had "no legal duty" to verify the existence of such an order.

Najib's lawyer, Mohamed Shafee Abdullah, expressed disappointment with the decision, arguing that the government should have clarified the matter. He plans to appeal the ruling and insists that the application is supported by "digital evidence," including a photograph of the addendum allegedly taken by Trade Minister Zafrul Aziz.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has denied knowledge of the order, and others named in Najib's application have remained silent. The pardons board, which commuted Najib's sentence, has also not provided a reason for its decision, leading to public outcry over perceived special treatment.

The Malaysian Bar, representing over 20,000 lawyers, has challenged the board's decision as illegal, unconstitutional, and invalid, arguing it undermines Najib's ongoing criminal cases. The hearing for the Bar's challenge began this week.

Najib, 70, has served less than two years of his sentence, which is now due to end on August 23, 2028. He was found guilty of corruption related to the looting of the 1MDB fund, with investigators alleging that at least $4.5 billion was stolen and laundered through a complex network of bank accounts, financing extravagant purchases and projects. Over $700 million allegedly landed in Najib's personal bank accounts.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09