Despite SRC conviction, Najib avoids jail for now after High Court grants stay of execution pending appeal

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex July 28, 2020. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex July 28, 2020. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak has successfully obtained a stay of execution for his sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment and RM210 million fine as imposed on him by the High Court today.

Earlier today, the former prime minister was convicted and found guilty on all seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd by the High Court.

High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, in allowing the stay application, however, said Najib’s status as an accused has changed to a convict.

“I find that the applicant has fully established special circumstances for the court to grant a stay of execution for the imprisonment and stay of the payment of the fine as well.

“I also ordered for bail to be increased by another RM1 million with two sureties to be paid by tomorrow,” he said.

Mohd Nazlan also ordered Najib to report to the nearest police station on the 1st and 15th of every month.

Earlier, Shafee had asked Mohd Nazlan to consider the circumstances of disallowing a stay which would cause Najib grave inconvenience and impinge on his right to defend himself in his other cases.

“As Yang Arif can appreciate, the stay of the sentence Yang Arif has to consider first of all is the term of imprisonment of maximum 12 years running concurrently.

“In view of the circumstances, then Yang Arif will have to consider in the interest of justice of the hefty fine of RM210 million in terms of precedence, it is unprecedented,” he said.

Shafee said that a stay of execution is almost always given as a matter of course unless the offence is grave.

Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh also chimed in, arguing that Najib was unable to pay the RM210 million fine as he had already been ordered by the court to pay RM1.69 billion to the Inland Revenue Board for overdue tax.

To this ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said the fines could be paid in installments.

Earlier, in the prosecution’s submission on granting a stay, Sithambaram had told the court that it had to be an extraordinary one before discretion is exercised.

Sithambaram also submitted that the accused held the most powerful offices in Malaysia for nearly a decade as finance minister and prime minister.

“The accused owed a fiduciary and moral duty to discharge his obligations to the people.

“This conviction shows he failed in that respect,” says the lawyer.

In view of this, Sithambaram said that he wants the court to use this case as a precedent to those who hold public office that no one is above the law.

“Any leniency shown would be misplaced sympathy and disastrous to society.

“We submit, My Lord, in this case the sentence should look at a sentence reserved for the worst case imaginable.

“This is certainly one case,” he said.

He also said evidence has shown that there was no attempt to recover the RM42 million even after then Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had cleared Najib of wrongdoing.

“It is abundantly clear there was no intention to return the money — RM42 million which came from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP).

“This case tarnished the country as a kleptocracy. I don’t think Malaysians deserve that,” he said.

Sithambaram also praised the press for exposing the crimes which Najib had committed, in which widespread coverage by the media had successfully uncovered the crime for which Najib has been convicted.

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