KUALA LUMPUR: The police search of former prime minister Najib Razak's home went on for about 18 hours and amounted to "harassment", said his lawyer in a statement on Thursday (May 17).
Lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal said police arrived at about 10pm on Wednesday, and were still searching it on Thursday afternoon, the first day of Ramadan.
Giving his account of events, Mr Harpal said the search had been done in a "professional manner" up until 5am.
At about 8.30am, he said some officers went to a room and decided to drill open a safe. "The drilling continues although it is past 5pm now and there is absolutely no peace and quiet at his residence," he said.
According to Mr Harpal, the safe had been locked for two decades because the key had been misplaced.
"The search conducted in the premises and the items seized thus far would seem of insignificant value, and the continued presence of police officers in his residence and the drilling of the old safe strongly suggests unwarranted harassment causing Dato Seri Najib's family members, staff and others in the residence mental distress and anguish and casts a bad image of my client," said the lawyer.
He also questioned the timing of the search, which "denied the right" of Mr Najib's family and staff to properly conduct their religious obligations before the opening of fast on the first day of Ramadan.
"Nothing meaningful has come from the search," Mr Harpal added, making clear that Mr Najib had already indicated at the outset that he is willing to extend his full cooperation to the authorities.
Five properties linked to Mr Najib, including the family home where he lives, were raided by police in their investigations into a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded by Najib.
Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor have been blacklisted by the Immigration Department and cannot leave the country.
"I WANT PEOPLE TO BE TREATED DECENTLY": MAHATHIR
When asked at a media conference on Thursday about the police search, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he did not know that it would take place at night.
"The police have their standard operating procedure. I didn't know that they should raid at night. But my instruction is very clear. I'm not going to torture people or things like that. I want people to be treated decently," he said.
Asked if Mdm Rosmah was also being investigated given that police seized handbags, Dr Mahathir said the authorities are conducting investigations regardless of who the individuals were.
"If there is a case, we will take action. It is up to those conducting the investigations. The investigations involve several government agencies or ministries, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, police, National Audit Department and other bodies which have information,” he said.