Ex-Malaysian PM Najib’s graft trial scheduled to start today, Latest World News - The New Paper

Ex-Malaysian PM Najib’s graft trial scheduled to start today

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KUALA LUMPUR: The corruption trial of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is to start today despite a last-minute attempt by him to postpone the proceedings.

Mr Najib is facing seven charges of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power involving RM42 million (S$14m) in funds belonging to SRC International, a former unit of troubled state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The seven charges are the first set of charges to be tried in court out of the 42 charges levelled against him.

The Kuala Lumpur Court Complex is expected to be swarming with local and international media for the trial.

Political analysts said the trial of Malaysia's former premier would be a landmark event for the country not just legally but also politically.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition swept to power at the general election last year, fuelled in part by voter anger over the 1MDB scandal.

Universiti Malaya political analyst Dr Muhammad Asri Mohd Ali said sympathy or support for Mr Najib could grow if the public perceived that the prosecution had not presented enough evidence during the trial.

He believed the trial would also not limit Mr Najib's ability to continue engaging the public through attending events such as those organised by non-governmental organisations.

"The trial will not tie Najib down and I don't think it will curb his political activities," he said.

The trial was originally slated for Feb 12 but was postponed because of appeals over procedural matters raised in pre-trial hearings.

Last week, a judge ruled that the trial should proceed.

Mr Najib filed a judicial review on Monday against the decision not to grant him a stay on the upcoming proceedings.

Mr Harvinderjit Singh, one of Mr Najib's lawyers, said the application was filed at the Federal Court but no date has been set for it.

Despite this, the trial is expected to proceed. - THE STAR