PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s top court refused Friday to review its 2022 decision to uphold former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s conviction for graft and 12-year jail sentence, saying he was “the author of his own misfortune.”
A five-member Federal Court bench unanimously rejected his final appeal in August in a case linked to the looting of state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, sending Najib straight to prison to start serving his sentence. But Najib has sought a review to overturn the decision, saying he has been denied a fair trial.
A new Federal Court panel rejected Najib’s assertion in a majority judgement. This effectively shut the lid on the case, which means that Najib will have to serve out the duration of his sentence. If he had won a review, he could have been freed on bail pending a new appeal hearing.
Najib was stone-faced when the judgement was read out.
Four of five judges said they found “no failure of justice.” They dismissed defense arguments that there was a conflict of interest by the judge who convicted him, and that Najib was disallowed to cite new evidence. The judges said the earlier Federal Court panel had applied the laws correctly.
“In this matter, with respect, we are constrained to say the applicant is the author of his own misfortune,” said Justice Vernon Ong.
Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli dissented, saying that there must be confidence in the administration of justice.
The British-educated Najib was born into Malaysia’s political elite. His father was the country’s second prime minister and his uncle was the third.
He became prime minister in 2009 as a reformer but his term was tainted by the 1MDB scandal that sparked investigations in the United States and several other countries and caused his government’s downfall in 2018 general elections.
Investigators allege at least $4.5 billion was stolen from the 1MDB fund, set up shortly after Najib took power, and laundered by Najib’s associates. Najib was found guilty in 2020 of seven charges of corruption for illegally receiving $9.4 million from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
Najib was the country’s first former leader to be imprisoned. He still faces dozens of charges in several separate trials linked to 1MDB. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, was also sentenced to 10 years in jail for a separate corruption case and is out on bail pending appeal.
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