Former Malaysian PM Najib goes to trial over corruption charges

World Today

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, gets into a car after his court appearance at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Najib appeared in court Wednesday for the start of his corruption trial, exactly 10 years after he was first elected to office only to suffer a spectacular defeat last year on allegations he pilfered millions of dollars from a state investment fund. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The corruption trial former prime minister Najib Razak is underway. He has plead ‘not guilty’ to stealing millions of dollars from a state investment fund. Prosecutors said he laundered the money through banks in the US to finance Hollywood films, buy hotels and artwork.

CGTN’s Rian Maelzer reports.

Ten years to the day since he was sworn in as prime minister, Najib Razak has arrived to face trial on seven corruption-related charges.

It had seemed inevitable from the moment he lost power last May.

The charges relate to $10 million prosecutors said was diverted from a subsidiary of the 1MDB state investment fund to Najib’s personal bank account. He faces nearly three-dozen other charges involving more than $2 billion in total.

“I am here to support Datuk seri Najib,” Lokman Noor Adam, a member of the supreme council of Najib’s party said. “I believe this is a malicious prosecution, selective prosecution. They are coming up with so many cases, trying to show or to create the perception that Datuk Seri Najib is guilty already.”

The prosecution plans to introduce thousands of pages of documents, and call some 60 witnesses.

Following last May’s election, police raided properties linked to Najib, seizing around a quarter billion dollars’ worth of cash, jewelry and designer handbags.

But as the trial has approached, Najib has been working hard to rehabilitate his image, especially via social media.

Many Malaysians have become impatient over how long it has taken for the former prime minister to face justice, but KRA Group analyst Keith Leong stressed that “This is a very important case and it has had political implications and it must be as legitimate as possible.”

“So people should not complain about how long it takes because justice must be done and seen to be done. So the issue of how much time it takes really shouldn’t arise.”

The Attorney General is leading the prosecution. He told the court that as prime minister, minister of finance and chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers, Najib had wielded maximum control over the nation’s purse and nearly absolute power.

Najib is currently free after posting bail around $1.5 million for the various charges he faces.