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Malaysian court orders graft trial of wife of ex-PM Najib to proceed

Malaysian court orders graft trial of wife of ex-PM Najib to proceed

Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak, arrives at the Duta court complex for a hearing in her graft trial in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 18, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court on Thursday (Feb 18) ordered Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, to enter a defence in a corruption trial linked to a multimillion-dollar project approved while the ex-prime minister was still in power.

Dozens of graft charges were filed against the couple after Najib lost the 2018 election, amid popular anger over alleged corruption and their opulent lifestyle after police raids revealed Rosmah owned millions of dollars worth of jewellery and luxury handbags.

The Kuala Lumpur high court ruled that the prosecution had succeeded in proving sufficient grounds for the case to proceed.

"This is my finding that the prosecution has produced credible evidence to prove every element of the offence ... I now call upon the accused to enter a defence," judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said in his ruling.

READ: Malaysia's Najib Razak seeks to depose Goldman Sachs, ex-banker in 1MDB defence

Rosmah, 69, told the court that she would testify under oath when taking the witness stand during defence proceedings.

Her lawyer, Jagjit Singh, said after the hearing the defence would be "hampered to a certain extent" because the judge did not explain the factors behind his decision, adding that this had caused his client emotional distress.

"We had to comfort her a little bit. We just told her to go back to her house and remove all the stress that has gone through here," Jagjit told reporters.

Rosmah was earlier accompanied by Najib, who had to leave midway through her hearing to attend to his own court case.

Rosmah faces three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes involving a sum of RM194 million (US$48.09 million) to help a company, Jepak Holdings, secure a solar power project.

Of that total, prosecutors accuse Rosmah of arranging for RM187 million to be paid as a political donation to Najib, while also receiving two bribes of RM6.5 million.

The bribes were allegedly received through Rosmah's former special officer, Rizal Mansor, as a reward for helping Jepak Holdings secure the Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar System Integrated Project, as well as the maintenance and operation of diesel gen-sets, for 369 Sarawak rural schools worth RM1.25 billion.

READ: Cash, items seized from Najib-linked premises worth around RM1.1 billion: Malaysia police

This is said to have taken place through direct negotiation with the Education Ministry.​​​​​​​

The acts were allegedly committed at Lygon Cafe at Sunway Putra Mall, Rosmah’s residence at Jalan Langgak Duta and at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya between January 2016 and September 2017.

If found guilty, she could be jailed for up to 20 years and fined at least five times the sum specified in the charges.

In July, Najib was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 12 years in jail in the first of several trials linked to a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He has since filed an appeal against the decision.

The couple have denied any wrongdoing, saying the charges are politically motivated. 

Rosmah's case will resume on Jun 9.

Source: Agencies/zl


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