Malaysian judge in Najib's 1MDB-linked case transferred back to civil court

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was found guilty in the case involving SRC International in July last year. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian judge who convicted former prime minister Najib Razak in a case linked to tainted state fund 1MDB has been transferred from the Kuala Lumpur criminal court back to the civil court.

The transfer of Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali came about six months after he found Najib guilty in the case involving SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Developmend Bhd (1MDB).

In a circular issued by the Bar Council to all members of the Bar on Friday (Jan 22), Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed directed the transfer of Justice Nazlan from the Kuala Lumpur High Court (Criminal 3) to Kuala Lumpur High Court from March 1, Malaysiakini news site reported on Saturday.

The transfer Justice Nazlan to the civil court is to replace a retiring judge, the Chief Registrar's Office said on Saturday (Jan 23), as reported by The Star newspaper.

"This is a normal practice for judges. Justice Nazlan's transfer to the civil court is to replace Justice Wong Chee Lin who will be retiring," said the office in its statement.

Justice Nazlan was previously attached to the commercial division before he was assigned to the criminal court, and he has experience as well as expertise in civil and commercial matters, the office added as quoted by The Star.

Justice Nazlan, 52, on July 28 last year became the first judge in Malaysia to hand down a guilty verdict to a former prime minister.

Najib was found guilty of seven charges linked to RM42 million (S$13.8 million) of funds from SRC International and sentenced to a total of 72 years in jail. But Najib is slated to serve only 12 years as the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Najib was also fined RM210 million by the judge after being found guilty of one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), and three counts of money laundering. Najib is still an MP and has been going about as usual as he is appealing against the sentence.

Justice Nazlan has several other high-profile criminal cases before his March 1 transfer.

One is also linked to 1MDB, and is about the government's US$340 million forfeiture suit against PetroSaudi International and four others, Malaysiakini reported.

The judge is also set to deliver on Feb 3 his end-of-defence decision on a corruption case involving former Felda chairperson Isa Samad and the purchase of a hotel in Sarawak.

Justice Nazlan was on July 2018 transferred from the commercial court to the criminal court to preside over Najib's SRC International trial, taking over from the previous judge Mohd Sofian Abd Razak.

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