Najib didn't express remorse after being found guilty in 1MDB-linked case, says trial judge

Ex-Malaysian premier Najib Razak speaks to the media after he was found guilty in his corruption trial in Kuala Lumpur on July 28, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The trial involving former Malaysian premier Najib Razak has been regarded as "the worst kind" of abuse of position, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering by the High Court judge who convicted the former prime minister.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali remarked that Najib did not express any remorse after he was found guilty on July 28 of seven counts of corruption in the case involving RM42 million (S$13.8 million) that was deposited into his personal bank accounts. The funds belonged to SRC International, a former unit of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The judge made his remarks in a 801-page grounds of his judgment, with the report dated Aug 21. The judgment, sighted by The Star, formed part of the appeal record sent to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Nazlan said based on how the crimes were committed, the huge sum involved and its public impact, he would not hesitate to characterise the case as "the worst kind" of abuse of position, CBT and money laundering.

"And perhaps most importantly, it involved the person who at the material time, was in the highest ranking authority in the government," he wrote.

Justice Nazlan sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and a fine of RM210 million, in default of five years' jail for the single count of abuse of power.

Najib was sentenced to 10 years' jail each for the three counts of CBT and three counts of money laundering.

All jail time was ordered to run concurrently.

Najib, in his mitigation speech where he directly addressed the judge, had described his achievements over his nine years as premier, and cited the Muslim oath to deny any knowledge where the money came from.

Justice Nazlan said there was no denying that Najib had indeed made contributions to the well-being and the betterment of the nation during his tenure as the prime minister.

"Political history will continue to debate whether he has done on balance more good than harm. But this very process would arguably be inimical to the ideals of a clean administration that does not tolerate corruption and abuse of power," he said.

Mr Nazlan said whether the moral compass of the nation required some recalibration was deserving of a separate discourse.

"What this court seeks to affirm is the sanctity of the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution.

"No one - not even one who was the most powerful political figure and the leader of the country - enjoys a cloak of invincibility from the force of the law," he wrote, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today news site.

The court also found it of no use to figure out the reasoning behind Najib's offences.

"There is little merit in this court pontificating and lamenting on why the accused had done what he did, despite (or because of) his undisputed standing at the apex of the vast wealth of power and unparalleled authority.

"The accused, I repeat, is a person with a keen intellect and must surely have a firm sense of right and wrong," he added.

Najib on July 30 filed a notice of appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Case management in the appeal has been fixed for Oct 15.

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