Najib Razak may be spared from the court drama reminiscent of the sodomy trial of PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim some seven years ago, as the former prime minister will be following proceedings online to hear the outcome of his appeal against his conviction for charges related to RM42 million in his bank accounts.
MalaysiaNow understands that as Najib is facing criminal charges, he will be required to follow proceedings from his lawyer’s office.
A source familiar with remote hearings of this nature said in the event that the court upholds his conviction and jail sentence, the next process will be to make preparations for Najib to be sent to jail.
“But this can be averted if his lawyer immediately applies for his bail to be extended, pending his appeal to the Federal Court,” the source, a seasoned criminal lawyer, told MalaysiaNow.
He added that going by procedure, police will have to be stationed where Najib is tomorrow.
The Court of Appeal has decided to proceed with delivering its judgment tomorrow on Najib’s appeal to overturn his conviction by the High Court last year.
Najib and his team of lawyers earlier said they wanted a postponement because they had been found to be close contacts for Covid-19.
Najib has been on RM1 million bail since the court granted him a stay of execution pending the outcome of his appeal tomorrow.
Only one bailor had turned up in court today, informing the appeal judges that Najib and his defence team were in self-quarantine.
This sparked a strongly worded warning from Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, one of the three appeals court judges who will decide on Najib’s fate tomorrow.
The court refused to grant further postponements and ordered the defence and their client to be present online by noon.
The source said due to what transpired in court today, it was possible that the prosecution might raise objections to any application for a stay of execution pending Najib’s final appeal at the Federal Court.
“If the court agrees to this, then Najib has to go to prison until his appeal is heard in the Federal Court,” it added.
Later this afternoon, Karim alongside fellow judges Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera rejected an application by lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to adduce new evidence for the appeal, ruling that there were no “exceptional circumstances” to merit it.
Karim also reminded Najib to be present for the online trial tomorrow at 9am “whatever will be”.
In July 2020, Najib was found guilty of seven counts of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering related to RM42 million from the 1MDB-linked SRC International.
His actual sentence is 72 years’ imprisonment, 10 years for each of the six charges related to CBT and money laundering, and 12 years for abuse of power for which he was also fined RM210 million or five times the amount in question. But High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali used his discretion to order for the sentences to run concurrently.
Najib is the most senior Malaysian politician to be convicted of criminal charges since Anwar in 2014. His conviction came two years after the PKR leader was acquitted by the High Court of a charge of sodomising a party worker.
Despite the appeals court sentencing him to five years’ jail, Anwar was granted a stay of execution. The following year, in 2015, he was sent to jail after losing his final appeal at the Federal Court. However, he was released before completing his term following a royal pardon recommended by the Pakatan Harapan government in 2018.