Malaysia — The plans for a grand comeback of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak may be nipped in the bud with a verdict on his appeal against his conviction and sentencing for graft last year is expected on Wednesday (Dec 8).

On Tuesday (Dec 7), the Court of Appeal denied his bid to bring in fresh evidence, with the judges unconvinced that anything new apart from what the High Court had already heard was being brought to light. 

According to Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, the former Prime Minister did not satisfy the requirement of the law necessary for his appeal to go forward, noting that Mr Najib did not succeed in his effort to show exceptional circumstances as a reason why his application should be allowed.

The judge said that new evidence to be introduced should be that which was not available during the trial. The evidence also must be credible and relevant, as well as be able to create reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.

“Under the circumstances, we find no exceptional circumstances were shown for the court to take additional evidence in the appeal.

This application is therefore dismissed. Now the delivery of decision tomorrow will proceed as fixed at 9am,”Justice Abdul Karim said.

Mr Najib filed an eleventh-hour application in an attempt to introduce new evidence before the court hands down its decision on his appeal to set aside his conviction and sentence for misappropriating RM42 million (S$13.6 million) that had come from SRC.

The former Prime Minister wanted to have Tan Sri Azam Baki, the chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), as well as Rosli Hussein, an investigating officer with the SRC, to testify concerning the new evidence in the wake of MACC’s Nov 19 conformation that RM65 million in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) linked funds had been recovered from Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the former Governor of Bank Negara.

But Datuk V Sithambaram, the lead prosecutor on the case, said that Mr Najib was trying to imply that there had been a conspiracy, and was depending on conjecture and speculation to do so.

He added that the money from 1MDB linked to Ms Zeti had been transacted even before SRC was established, and pointed out that while she had been offered as a defence witness during the SRC trial, she was never even interviewed.

Mr Najib, who had not appeared during the first part of Tuesday’s proceedings, was given an ultimatum by the judges to appear via Zoom, which he did at 12:30 pm.

“We can cancel the RM2 million bail and issue a warrant of arrest for Najib’s non-attendance. You yourself (bailor) do not know why Najib is not here. You are just guessing. This is not a coffee shop, this is the court of law, do not just play guessing,” said Justice Abdul Karim.

On Monday, the court was told by defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that his son Muhammad Farhan, a fellow lawyer on the defence team, had tested positive for Covid. The other lawyers were identified as close or casual contacts.

The following morning, Mr Najib’s defence team asked that the hearing be postponed for this reason, which the court rejected. 

In July 2020, Mr Najib was convicted by the High Court of seven counts of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust, thus becoming the first Prime Minister of Malaysia to be convicted of corruption. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million (S$68.05 million), which he appealed. /TISG

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