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Malaysia court dismisses jailed ex-PM Najib's bid to serve sentence under house arrest

Malaysia court dismisses jailed ex-PM Najib's bid to serve sentence under house arrest
Najib Razak said an "addendum order" from the former king accompanied a pardons board’s decision to halve his sentence.
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian court dismissed jailed former Prime Minister Najib Razak's legal bid to obtain a document that he said would allow him to serve his remaining prison sentence under house arrest, his lawyer said on July 3.

In a judicial review application filed on April 1, Najib said an "addendum order" issued by the former king had accompanied a pardons board's decision in February to halve his 12-year jail sentence for graft in the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Najib had sought for the court to compel the government to reply on or confirm the existence of the royal order, which he said would entitle him to serve the remainder of his term under house arrest, and to execute the order if it existed.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court found there was no merit to the former premier's bid and that the government had no legal duty to respond to the application, his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters.

Najib planned to appeal the decision, he said.

"In terms of ethics, the government should have responded," the lawyer said.

The Attorney-General's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The pardons board that halved Najib's term was chaired by the former king, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, whose five-year reign as head of state ended in January.

Najib was found guilty in 2020 of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power for illegally receiving funds misappropriated from a unit of state fund 1MDB. The verdict was upheld by Malaysia's top court in 2022.

Malaysian and US investigators estimate that US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) was stolen from 1MDB and more than US$1 billion channelled to accounts linked to Najib.

The pardons board in February said Najib was expected to be released in August 2028, six years after he began serving his sentence. It also reduced fines imposed on the former premier, sparking an uproar in Malaysia.

Najib, who is also considering filing a new petition for a full pardon, remains on trial for corruption in several other 1MDB-linked cases.

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