Malaysia’s Najib loses final attempt to overturn conviction

Malaysia’s Najib loses final attempt to overturn conviction

The charges against Najib, who served as prime minister from 2009 to 2018, involved the transfer of 42 million US $9.4 million from SRC International, a former 1 MDB subsidiary, into his personal bank accounts in 2014 and 2015.

He was found guilty of three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power by the High Court in July 2020 and was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM 210 million.

The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal on December 8, 2021. On April 25th this year, Najib filed a petition of appeal to the Federal Court.

The Federal Court had initially set aside nine days - Aug 15 to Aug 19 and Aug 23 to Aug 26 - for his appeal. This is Najib's final attempt to overturn the guilty conviction.

The hearing proper started on Thursday with Mr Hisyam being denied of his request to discharge himself from representing Najib.

In delivering the judges decision, the chief justice said the court had discretionary authority to allow or deny the discharge application to safeguard and protect the rights of an accused.

The five-man bench rejected the application on Tuesday after Najib tried to adduce new evidence in his appeal.

Later on Tuesday, the Federal Court denied a request by Najib to adjourn the final appeal hearing.

Hisyam - who was appointed to replace the legal team that Najib discharged at the end of July - had requested the case be deferred for three to four months as the defence needed time to deal with the case.

The chief justice said parties were aware of the hearing dates and should have taken every effort to be ready for the hearings.

Najib issued a statement on Thursday, saying that his rights, life, liberty and right to a fair hearing were at stake.

Mr Hisyam stated multiple times that he was not prepared for the appeal meant that he was left with no effective counsel or a proper presentation before the court.

He said that he had brought in a new team for a fresh perspective on the case, but he said that the team would need time.

I am not ashamed to say that I was desperate, as would any litigant in my predicament.

He said that he was in a situation where my right to counsel and a fear hearing was illusory because I made a decision that I thought was in my best interests at the time.