KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — On this day exactly 10 years ago, Datuk Seri Najib Razak became the sixth prime minister of Malaysia.
Today, he stood before the steps leading to the lobby of the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex at 1.51pm and put his hands together to offer a short doa or prayer as the former prime minister accused of abusing his position to pilfer the country’s funds in the case of SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Dressed in a dark blue suit with a matching blue tie over a white shirt, the Pekan MP and former leader of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that had ruled Malaysia for over half a century maintained a stoic facade in the face of flashing camera lights and the bevy of media personnel calling out to him.
His pink lips pursed tight but turned up slightly at the corners and his head looking straight ahead, Najib did not entertain the cries of “Datuk Seri, Datuk Seri” to his left and right.
Under heavy police escort, Najib strode towards the lifts on the ground floor to the courtroom on the fifth floor where his youngest son, his defence team and dozens others of media personnel and the rest of the world have been waiting for this historic trial to start.
Only Nurashman Najib spotted in the courtroom. Glaringly absent was his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and their daughter Nooryana Najwa.
About 50 people squeezed onto the hard wooden benches in the public gallery inside the courtroom, right behind the dock.
Just before Najib entered the dock, an aide stepped up to place a royal gold-coloured cushion on the bench for his 65-year-old boss to rest against.
The entire courtroom stood as High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali entered.
Najib is here for his first-ever trial over RM42 million of funds belonging to 1MDB's former unit SRC International Sdn Bhd. He faces a total of seven charges over the RM42 million.
Out of the seven charges slapped on him on July 4, 2018 and August 8, 2018, Najib is accused of committing three counts of criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, and a separate charge under an anti-corruption law of abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same RM42 million sum.
The first three counts under Section 409 of the Penal Code are over Najib allegedly committing criminal breach of trust involving sums of RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million while entrusted with the control of RM4 billion of SRC International's funds in his capacity as the prime minister and finance minister
Under the fourth count, Najib was charged under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 with abusing his position to commit bribery of RM42 million when he was involved in a government decision to provide government guarantee for the Retirement Fund Incorporated's (KWAP) RM4 billion loan to SRC International.
The remaining three charges are for allegedly money-laundering the same total sum of RM42 million, where Najib is accused of receiving RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million in proceeds from unlawful activities in two of his AmIslamic Bank Berhad accounts between December 26, 2014, and February 10, 2015.
The money-laundering charges are under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) 2001.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas is personally leading a team of another 11 lawyers for the start of Najib’s trial today.
Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, Datuk V. Sithambaram and the Attorney General’s Chambers’ prosecution division head Manoj Kurup are among those in the prosecution’s team.
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is leading a team of another 11 lawyers for Najib’s defence team, including Harvinderjit Singh.
Also on Najib's defence team today were former Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden and senior criminal lawyer Datuk Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin.
Shafee later explained that Yusof and his team were previously considered to be part of Najib's defence team, and had today appeared just for the purpose of applying for alleged defective charges against Najib to be rectified and properly framed before the trial started.
“But for this occasion, they were brought in immediately for purposes of challenges to the charges. That is their specific role. They are not at the moment in the entire defence," he told reporters when met after the end of proceedings today.
Lawyers holding a watching brief are Rajsurian Pillai and AG Kalidas for the Bar Council, while a lawyer also held a watching brief for Rosmah.