Najib’s trial starts today, 10 years after elected as PM

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Today, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak will stand trial for charges related to SRC International Sdn Bhd’s RM42 million fund — the first time the country’s former prime minister (PM) has been hauled up to face criminal charges.

The trial, which has already stirred global attention, was thrown into uncertainties following a last-minute attempt by Najib’s legal team to seek a judicial review over the lifting of the order to stay related to the case. The Federal Court has set tomorrow (April 4) to hear Najib’s application and four other appeals.

The trial will go on today at the Kuala Lumpur High Court at 2pm.

The 66-year-old Pekan MP faces seven charges related to SRC, a former unit of troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The prosecution will try to prove that Najib is guilty over three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), one count of abuse of power and three counts of money laundering related to SRC’s funds.

Najib has repeatedly pleaded his innocence and claimed that the charges were politically motivated.

Najib — who was ousted following Barisan Nasional’s shocking defeat in the May 2018 general election — is also facing 35 counts related to CBT, abuse of power, money laundering and corruption related to 1MDB, tampering of the fund’s audit report and 1Malaysia People’s Aid or BR1M.

The eldest son of the country’s second PM has paid a total bail of RM6 million, while waiting for the trials of the other charges.

But the SRC’s case is seen as a start, with the prosecution expected to call three witnesses. If found guilty for the CBT charges, Najib could face a maximum jail term of 20 years.

The trial today comes exactly 10 years after he was sworn in as the country’s sixth PM. No former PM has ever been charged in the courts.

Najib’s SRC trial has been scheduled from Feb 12 to March 29. The trial has been delayed twice due to interlocutory matters and appeals. Najib’s defence team is led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, while Attorney General Tommy Thomas is leading the prosecution team.

Some 63 witnesses have been prepared to take the witness stand and more than 3,000 pages of related documents have been submitted to Najib’s lawyers.

A key witness of the case is former SRC director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin.

He has been placed under the witness protection programme after he surrendered to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in June last year, according to reports.

Further dates of the SRC trial have not been fixed. But analysts believe there would be more appeals and adjournments as the trial progresses, ending the hope of a quick and swift resolution.

About 200 media personnel are expected at the courthouse to cover today’s proceedings, including international broadcasting networks. Tighter security is expected at the court compound to prevent any untowards incidents.

Following the string of charges, Najib has been busy changing his persona with his “Bossku” campaign which has gained traction with certain sections of the community.

But many Malaysians want his trial to be expedited and the former PM should use the court to prove his innocence.