PUTRAJAYA, Aug 23 — Disgraced former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has today failed in his final appeal against the High Court's guilty conviction over the SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption case, as hundreds of Umno supporters bussed in from Pekan to the Palace of Justice lamented the decision.
The decision marks a historic moment for Malaysian politics as the country will witness for the first time a former prime minister head to jail.
Today’s decision also means that Najib is automatically disqualified from his seat as the Member of Parliament for Pekan under Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution.
"In the circumstances, and having pored through the evidence, the submissions and the rest of the records of appeal, we find the appellant’s complaints as contained in the petition of appeal devoid of any merit.
"On the totality of the evidence, we find the conviction of the appellant on all seven charges safe. We also find that the sentence imposed is not manifestly excessive.
"These appeals are therefore unanimously dismissed and the conviction and sentence are affirmed," the country's apex court said in its unanimous ruling that was read out at 4.25pm.
The Federal Court also ordered for a warrant of committal to be issued against Najib and for him to serve his sentence with immediate effect.
The final day of the hearing saw Najib trying to recuse Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat from presiding over the case, which was rejected.
Leading a five-judge panel, Tengku Maimun then proceeded to read out the Federal Court's 15-pages long grounds of judgement following a three-hour long lunch recess.
The other four judges on the bench were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Federal Court judges Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.
Tengku Maimun said the findings of the High Court on the defence were correct and that the learned trial judge had undertaken a thorough analysis of the evidence produced by the defence.
She said the trial judge had also correctly evaluated all the evidence led in relation to the defence and did not believe the defence narrative.
She said Najib had shown how his defence was inconsistent, incoherent and unworthy of belief, as submitted by the prosecution.
Najib, she said, did not dispute the RM42 million entering into his personal accounts, but merely denied knowledge of the fund's source from SRC International.
Noting Najib's defence claiming he was framed in conspiracy hatched by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), the late Datuk Azlin Alias (Najib's former principal private secretary) amd former SRC managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, Tengku Maimun said the prosecution had always maintained at trial that these defences are completely inconsistent and diametrically opposed to one another.
"The respondent maintains that the defence was unworthy of belief because, on the one hand, the defence maintained that the RM42 million said to have been wrongfully gained by the appellant to the wrongful loss to SRC was not within the knowledge of the appellant.
"The appellant also maintained the defence that the monies that were credited into his personal AmIslamic bank accounts, i.e. Accounts 880 and 906 which are the subject of the last six charges, were received from Arab Donations from Saudi Arabia," she said.
Thus, under the current circumstances, Tengku Maimun said the Federal Court was unable to conclude that any of the findings of the High Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeal were perverse or plainly wrong so as to warrant appellate intervention.
"In our judgment, the findings of the High Court on the defence are correct. In concluding that the defence failed to raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case, we find that the learned High Court Judge had undertaken a thorough analysis of the evidence produced by the defence.
"We agree that the defence is so inherently inconsistent and incredible that it does not raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case," she said.
Upon the delivery of the verdict, Najib who was seated in the accused dock in a black suit, seemed lost for words.
His wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and children Nooryana Najwa and Norashman who were seated behind him in the public gallery, moved to console Najib. Also present was Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
It was understood that Najib spent almost an hour at the court room surrounded by his family, aide and fellow party members before he was whisked away in a black SUV where he departed for Kajang Prison to serve his sentence.
In a brief press conference later, lead counsel Hisyam who appeared sombre, expressed sadness and remarked that one could only seek solace and comfort that only the Almighty can dispense ultimate justice.
Hisyam declined to comment further when asked if he would be filing a review of the verdict.
The Court of Appeal had on December 8, 2021 upheld the High Court’s July 2020 verdict and sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million meted against Najib.
Najib had been found guilty of one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering.
MORE TO COME