Najib SRC case: Trial judge did not err in sentencing, says Court of Appeal

KUALA LUMPUR: The trial judge who convicted Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case did not err in his sentencing principles when he handed the former prime minister a total of 12 years in jail and a RM210mil fine, says the Court of Appeal.

A three-man panel chaired by Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said the trial judge at the High Court, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, had balanced the interests of the appellant (Najib) with that of the pain and suffering that he had inflicted upon the nation.

"He (Najib) has not merely breached the trust reposted on him but has betrayed it," the panel said in a 316-page full judgment of the case.

Other judges on the panel were Justice Has Zanah Mehat and Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

On Wednesday (Dec 8), the panel dismissed Najib's appeal and upheld his conviction and sentence in the misappropriation of RM42mil from SRC, a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The panel found that Justice Mohd Nazlan had properly considered all factors that were relevant to be taken into consideration in sentencing.

"In the circumstances of the facts of the case, we do not find the sentences to be grossly excessive.

"The terms of imprisonment and fine imposed are wholly adequate and commensurate with the nature of the offences," it said.

The court also invoked the immortal words of the late former lord president Raja Azlan Shah, as he was known then before his ascension to the throne as the Sultan of Perak, in the corruption case of former Selangor mentri besar Datuk Harun Idris.

Raja Azlan, the trial judge in Harun's case, had found the latter guilty on three counts of corruption and sentenced him to imprisonment.

In his judgment, Raja Azlan had said: “I repeat what I had said before — the law is no respecter of persons. Nevertheless it will be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person that I have ever tried. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that, in the eyes of millions of our countrymen and women, you are a patriot and a leader.

“Even those who differ from you in politics look upon you as a man of high ideals. You had every chance to reach the greatest height of human achievement. But halfway along the road, you allowed avarice to corrupt you.

“It is incomprehensible how a man in your position could not in your own conscience recognise corruption for what it is.

"In so doing, you have not only betrayed your party cause, for which you have spoken so eloquently, but also the oath of office which you have taken and subscribed before your Sovereign Ruler, and above all the law of which you are its servant,” said Raja Azlan.

The appellate court said some 45 years later, the words from Raja Azlan still bear relevance to the appellant.

"The 'frightening decay in the integrity of some of our leaders' that Raja Azlan warned us of 45 years ago is still a scourge that plagues this beautiful nation.

"The courts in upholding the rule of law would have to do what is necessary to ensure that this modern day plague is eradicated for the good of the nation. The law is indeed 'no respecter of person'.

"All men are equal before the law, and the courts apply the law equally to all," said the court.

On July 28, 2020, the High Court sentenced Najib to a total of 12 years in jail and a total fine of RM210mil after he was found guilty of seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of position in the RM42mil from SRC.

Najib lost his appeal at the appellate court and has filed an appeal to the Federal Court.

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