Najib’s SRC graft trial comes to a close this week

Najib Razak is the first former Malaysian prime minister to face a criminal trial.

KUALA LUMPUR: After 14 months, Najib Razak’s trial on corruption charges relating to SRC International Sdn Bhd is winding down, with the defence and prosecution set to make oral submissions for three days from Monday.

Trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali is expected to seek clarification from disputing parties on their written submissions filed earlier before he delivers a verdict.

Najib, 67, was ordered to enter his defence in November to charges of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on a RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Incorporated to SRC International.

Najib is also charged with three counts of money laundering and three counts of criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the company, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

About 800 exhibits were tendered during the 91-day trial which began on April 3 last year. The prosecution called 57 witnesses to try to establish a prima facie case against Najib. The defence closed its case on March 11 after calling 19 witnesses.

Najib is the first former prime minister to be charged for a criminal offence. He gave evidence under oath for about 10 days.

Other key witnesses who testified were former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah; former ministers Jamil Khir Baharom and Anifah Aman; former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali; and former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioners Dzulkifli Ahmad and Latheefa Koya.

The defence has taken the position that there was no abuse of power as Najib’s participation in the decision-making process at Cabinet meetings was above board.

Further, it contended, there was no misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC money as the amount that entered into his account was part of a donation from the Arab royal family.

The defence also contends the money laundering charges would be dropped if the court rules Najib had been cleared of any wrongdoing for abuse of power and criminal breach of trust.

On May 5, the defence submitted 643 pages of written submissions, while the prosecution presented 306 pages. Two weeks later, both parties filed a reply to their written submissions.

Lawyers Muhammad Shafee Abdulah and Harvinderjit Singh are likely to make the oral submission and clarifications while ad-hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram will act for the prosecution.

Malaysia’s criminal justice system, in which an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, requires the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction on all charges. The defence only needs to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case to be entitled to an acquittal.

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