Fall from grace: Timeline of corruption trial for Najib Razak’s wife Rosmah Mansor
The wife of Malaysia's former prime minister has been sentenced to 10 years' jail and a fine of RM970 million (US$216 million) in lieu of another 10 years in prison.
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has found Rosmah Mansor, wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, guilty of three charges of corruption linked to a RM1.25 billion solar energy project in Sarawak.
In handing down the verdict on Thursday (Sep 1), the court sentenced Rosmah to 10 years in jail and a fine of RM970 million (US$216 million) in lieu of another 10 years in jail.
The trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan allowed the defence’s bid for a stay of execution of imprisonment and fine pending Rosmah's appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The court also allowed Rosmah to remain on her current bail of RM2 million.
The graft trial involving Rosmah, who was known for leading a lavish lifestyle, started in February 2020 and ended on Feb 23 this year after 42 days of proceedings.
The trial encountered several delays, due to Rosmah’s health issues, her request to be absent to allow her to visit her daughter in Singapore and a no-show by a witness due to COVID-19 quarantine.
Here is the chronology of the court case:
CHARGES AGAINST ROSMAH, TRIAL DELAYS
Nov 15, 2018: Rosmah was charged at the Sessions Court with two counts of soliciting RM187.5 million (US$41.9 million) and receiving RM1.5 million from contractor Saidi Abang Samsudin to help his company Jepak Holdings secure the Solar energy project for Sarawak schools worth RM1.25 billion.
Apr 10, 2019: Rosmah was charged with the third count of corruption related to the Solar energy project, for allegedly receiving a RM5 million bribe from Saidi. Rosmah pleaded not guilty to all the charges and her cases were then transferred to the High Court for the trial to begin in February 2020.
Feb 6, 2020: Rosmah’s corruption trial finally began after a two-day delay when her lawyer said that she was taken ill. The prosecution made the case to prove that she was guilty of all the three charges against her which were allegedly committed in 2016 and 2017.
Feb 18, 2021: High Court judge Mohamed Zaini ordered Rosmah to enter her defence in the trial after the judge concluded that the prosecution had produced “credible evidence to prove every element of the offence”.
Oct 15, 2021: Judge Mohamed Zaini allowed Rosmah to temporarily take back her passport so that she could travel to Singapore to visit her pregnant daughter who was expected to give birth. The application was allowed after the prosecution did not object to it.
Dec 2, 2021: Rosmah failed to show up in court for a hearing on her bid to nullify her bribery trial and remove the lead prosecutor and former federal court judge, Gopal Sri Ram. The Court of Appeal allowed the proceeding to be adjourned to another date, as requested by Rosmah’s lawyer Jagjit Singh who said she has not returned to Malaysia.
Dec 23, 2021: Rosmah and the lead prosecutor were reportedly engaged in a heated exchange of words, with Rosmah complaining to judge Mohamed Zaini that she was not used to being shouted at.
The exchange came about following Mr Sri Ram’s questioning of Rosmah about an alleged voice recording of her supposed conversation with Najib.
The prosecution argued that the recording, which sounded like someone was chiding another person who sounded like Najib, had shown Rosmah's “overbearing nature”. This was despite the latter not holding any official position in the government.
Feb 4, 2022: The High Court had to postpone the trial for the second time after the last defence witness Siti Azizah Sheikh Abod, could not attend court as she was under home quarantine after returning from a minor pilgrimage or Umrah to Mecca.
This prompted judge Mohamed Zaini to urge Rosmah’s lawyers to give priority to her case. Siti Azizah was Najib’s special officer in charge of Rosmah's daily programmes as the wife of the then prime minister.
DEFENCE TEAM CLOSES ITS CASE
Feb 23, 2022: The defence team closed its case at the High Court after a 42-day trial in a span of about three years, involving 23 prosecution and two defence witnesses, including Rosmah testified in the case.
Jul 1, 2022: Following case management, the High Court’s delivery of the verdict,which was originally scheduled on Jul 7, was postponed to Sep 1. Rosmah’s lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader said no reason was given for the rescheduling of the judgment date. The judge reportedly wanted to deliver the verdict in August but the prosecution and defence teams could only agree to a date in September.
Aug 27, 2022: Chief Registrar office of the Federal Court condemned the Malaysia Today website for posting a document it described as containing a leaked guilty judgment against Rosmah. The court reportedly condemned the website's action as “a deliberate act" to smear the court's reputation.
It also lodged a complaint with police and vowed that the court would not be cowed by attempts to threaten the administration of justice.
Aug 30, 2022: Rosmah filed an application to disqualify judge Mohamed Zaini only a day before the judge delivers his verdict on the case. The application was dismissed by judge Mohamed Zaini on Sep 1.
Rosmah’s second bid for the removal of lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram was also rejected by another High Court judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid.
The judge reportedly agreed with the prosecution’s objection against granting the leave application, as it was filed beyond the three months allowed after Rosmah was first charged at the criminal court on Nov 15, 2018.