Trial on former Malaysian PM Najib's corruption charges begins after delays

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-03 20:18:38|Editor: xuxin
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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) arrives at the high court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 3, 2019. A Malaysian court started hearings Wednesday on the corruption charges against former Prime Minister Najib Razak after previous delays. (Xinhua/Chong Voon Chung)

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 (Xinhua) -- A Malaysian court started hearings Wednesday on the corruption charges on former Prime Minister Najib Razak following previous delays.

Najib showed up at the high court in Kuala Lumpur for the hearings on the seven charges including criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving 42 million ringgit (10.3 million U.S. dollars) deposited into his personal bank account from SRC International, a former unit of state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In his opening speech for the case, Malaysian Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said Najib was appointed the chairman of the board of advisors of 1MDB and adviser emeritus in its fully owned subsidiary, SRC International.

"The burden is now on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that Najib is guilty of the charges, he said.

The prosecution then called one witness, Mohd Akmaludin Abdullah, a deputy registrar with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, who received a request from the country's anti-corruption body to run record checks of companies including SRC International.

The defense cross examined the witness in registration procedures before Najib's lead counsel Shafee Abdullah applied for the trial to resume at a later date due to a lack of time.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali fixed April 15 to May 10 for the trial to continue.

A small number of Najib's supporters, some from his constituency in Pekan, Pahang state were present outside the court building but they were dwarfed by members of the press and the police contingent of around 60 who were present to provide security and crowd control.

Wednesday's trial date was set following the decision by the Federal Court last week to lift the stay of proceedings order granted by the Court of Appeal to Najib, which he filed in February.

The trial proceeded despite his legal team filing an application for a judicial review against the Federal Court's decision to lift the stay of proceedings order on Tuesday.

The trial of the SRC case was initially slated to start in February but was put on hold after the Court of Appeal granted a stay of proceedings pending related appeals.

Najib has been slapped with a total of more than 40 charges related to corruption involving billions of dollars after his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition lost the general elections last May.

Also on Wednesday, the Malaysian government said it will sell the 1MDB-linked superyacht Equanimity at the price of 126 million U.S. dollars.

The Equanimity is one of the assets seized by Malaysian government under the 1MDB probe. The luxury yatch was once held by Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, who is wanted by the Malaysian government for the 1MDB case.

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