Najib, who will turn 65 on July 23, was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Wednesday (July 4) with receiving a RM42 million bribe as inducement to provide a sovereign guarantee on behalf of the Malaysian Government for a loan of RM4 billion from the pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) to SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Dawn of a Historic Day
Early this morning, even before 7am, the gates at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex opened to allow a convoy of police vehicles to enter. Police officers from the canine unit were seen inspecting the car park and court complex, while officers used metal detectors on nearby plant pots and garbage bins.
From as early as 7.30am, Umno members and individuals started to gather at the Court Complex in support of Najib.
Surrounded by strong police presence, some 100 people began singing earlier but stopped, obliging instructions from the authorities to maintain order.
Some were holding placards that read “FreeNajib”.
Umno Pekan puteri chief Sida Tantiana Sariat said the group was there to demand for the release of Najib who was arrested without concrete evidence. “No need to arrest him in such manner.
“We want the authorities to free Najib. Other party members from Pontian and Temerloh will be joining us to show their support to our division chief,” she said.
By about 8.05am, more than a dozen police personnel were stationed outside the Sessions Court where Najib would be charged. They instructed reporters to register a representative per publisher, due to limited seats in the courtroom.
Departing MACC HQ
Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in Putrajaya, the vehicle ferrying former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex was seen leaving the building at 7.37am.
The red Proton Inspira he was travelling in was part of a seven-vehicle convoy that included two police patrol cars and two outriders.
The media was out in full force as early as 6.30am to record the movements involving the sixth prime minister of Malaysia.
Arrival at Court Complex
At 8.20am, Najib arrived at the Court Complex.
Supporters chanted “Save Najib” and shouted “Allahuakbar!” as he was escorted into the building.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, Najib smiled as he was marched in by MACC personnel.
The supporters became increasingly agitated at the sight, jostling with security personnel in a bid to get nearer to him.
Sentul OCPD R Munusamy and his personnel struggled briefly to restrain the supporters as they became unruly and refused to comply with directions to take their protest outside the compound.
Some were also seen trying to force their way past the security cordon.
At 8.30am, about 26 media personnel representing their respective news agencies were allowed into the courtroom after a tight screening process. Two rows of benches that can seat around 25 reporters were provided.
The two front rows of the public gallery were reserved for Najib’s friends and family.
While waiting for the court proceedings to get underway, Najib was believed to be in the witness room of the Criminal Sessions Court 2 located at Level 4 on the right wing of the court complex.
Shortly before the appearance of senior lawyer Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who is leading Najib’s defence team of seven lawyers at 9.04am, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas who is personally leading the prosecution arrived with his team of 11 deputies.
The defence team includes Harvinderjit Singh, Datuk R Krishnan, Farhan Read, Rahmat Hazlan, Muhammad Farhan Shafee and Syahirah Hanapiah.
The prosecution team includes Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria, Manoj Kurup, Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim, Datuk Umar Saifuddin Jaafar, Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff, Donald Joseph Franklin, Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi, Budiman Lutfi Mohamed, Sulaiman Kho Kheng Fuei, Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul and Muhammad Izzat Fauzan.
Wearing sombre expressions, Najib’s children Nazifuddin, Nizar, Puteri Norlisa, Nooryana and Norashman were seen in the courtroom, but not his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
However, lawyer Datuk K Kumaraendran who represents Rosmah was present.
Sessions Court Proceedings
At 9am, Najib was led to the dock in the Sessions Court.
At 9.05am, court proceedings commenced.
The prosecution proffered criminal breach of trust charges which were read out to Najib in a packed courtroom before Sessions Court judge Datuk Zainal Abidin Kamarudin.
The prosecution put up three charges of criminal breach of trust over RM42 million from SRC International and another charge of power abuse over the same matter.
Najib remained expressionless as the charges were read out to him.
In the first CBT charge, Najib in his capacity as prime minister and finance minister, as well as adviser to SRC International, is accused of accused of transferring RM27 million from the company into his private bank account at AmIslamic Bank Bhd in Kuala Lumpur.
The offence was allegedly committed between Dec 24 and 29, 2014.
In the second charge, he is accused of transferring RM5 million from SRC International into his bank account during the same period.
In the third charge, which was allegedly committed two months later between Feb 10 and March 2, 2015, he is accused of transferring another RM10 million from the company into his account.
The fourth charge on abuse of power accuses Najib of using his position to syphon off RM42 million while giving government guarantees on SRC’s RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).
Though no plea was recorded in the Sessions Court, Najib nodded to show he understood. He appeared grim, with his jaw drawn tight.
Under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which covers the offence of criminal breach of trust by a public servant over property he is entrusted with or has control over, the penalty is a jail term of between two years and 20 years and whipping and fine.
The abuse charge was made under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and is punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of at least five times the sum involved, upon conviction.
Lawyers representing Rosmah requested permission to hold a watching brief of the trial.
The Attorney-General requested that the case be conducted in English and applied to have the case transferred to the High Court, where Najib’s plea would be taken, and in the event Najib pleads not guilty, the trial will be heard.
Sessions Court judge Zainal Abidin Kamarudin allowed the case to be transferred to the High Court.
High Court Proceedings
At 10.30am, Najib was brought to the High Court following the end of the proceedings at the Sessions Court.
He pleaded not guilty to all four charges of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power in relation to the transfer of RM42 million to his private bank account from SRC International Sdn Bhd.
He claimed trial before judge Sofian Abdul Razak at the High Court.
The prosecution asked for bail to be set at RM1 million per charge, amounting to a total of RM4 million and that the accused surrender his passport.
Shafee, however, objected that the amount was too high, saying that Najib was not a flight risk. He said the bail should be a more reasonable amount and that it should be set at no more than RM800,000.
“(There was) a very mischievous rumour that my client went to Langkawi and that he was about to fly off.
“He is not a flight risk. Bail is not meant to punish. The reason for bail is to secure attendance in court. There has never been any suggestion that my client is a flight risk.”
The lawyer added that Najib could not afford the RM4 million bail amount requested by the prosecution.
He said that Najib’s family would need to solicit funds from relatives and friends in order to make the bail amount.
Instead, he proposed the use of the deed to Najib’s mansion on Jalan Langgak Duta as collateral for the bail amount instead of cash.
However, Thomas objected to Shafee’s proposal, calling it impractical.
“Why should the prosecution be saddled with the practical difficulties?” Thomas shot back in court.
Finally, the court set bail at RM1 million cash and allowed Najib to pay the first half of RM500,0000 today, with the balance to be settled by 3pm next Monday.
Najib’s children Nooryana and Norashman stood as sureties.
Najib was also ordered to surrender both his diplomatic passports.
Shafee also sought a gag order on the media from reporting on Najib’s case.
Thomas, however, objected to the application as the Federal Constitution grants freedom of speech to Malaysians.
The High Court then imposed an interim gag order on the media from discussing the merits of Najib’s case.
Najib’s criminal and corruption trial will begin only in February next year.
The High Court judge fixed the case for management on August 8, 2018, but set the trial proper to start from February 18 till 28, 2019.
The trial will then take a break and resume starting March 4 to 8, 2019, before another short break, and continue from March 11 to 15, 2019.
Najib was arrested at his residence in Jalan Langgak Duta at 2.35pm on Tuesday afternoon.
He spent a night in the MACC detention facility while waiting for the authorities to charge him in court in the morning.