Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday launched an appeal against his conviction for corruption charges and 12 years in prison linked to the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal.
Najib was found guilty last year on all counts in the first of several lawsuits he faces related to the looting of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s sovereign wealth fund.
The 67-year-old, who remains free on bail, and his comrades were accused of stealing billions of dollars from the investment vehicle and spending it on everything from high-end properties to expensive art.
On Monday, Najib began his first challenge at the Court of Appeal and declined to comment on reporters when he arrived.
“There is a total violation of the fair trial – unknown,” Defense Attorney Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the court when the proceedings began.
“We have a mess, so we have to deal with it.”
Anger over the looting played a major role in the shock loss of Najib’s long-running coalition in the 2018 election, and he was arrested and beaten with dozens of accusations following his defeat.
After a lengthy trial, Najib was found guilty of abuse of power, money laundering and criminally trustworthy transfer of 42 million ringgit ($ 10.1 million) from a former 1MDB unit to his bank accounts.
In addition to his prison time, he was fined nearly $ 50 million. He denies anything wrong.
During the appeal, which runs until April 22, Najib’s lawyers will claim that he had no knowledge of the transactions to his accounts.
They try to portray him as a victim and blame the financier Low Taek Jho – a key figure in the scandal that has been accused in the US and Malaysia – as a mastermind.
Low, whose current whereabouts are unknown, retains his virginity.
If he loses the appeal, Najib still has one last chance to appeal the verdict in Malaysia’s Supreme Court.
Najib’s conviction came even after his scandal-ridden party returned to power after the collapse of a reformist administration, led by Mahathir Mohamad, who fired him in the 2018 polls.
The amounts involved in his first case are small compared to the amounts in his second and most significant trial, which are allegations that he illegally received more than $ 500 million.