KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 – In what could only be considered a made-for-TV drama playing out in real life, both former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor made court appearances, in two separate courtrooms, at the same time this morning.
While Rosmah arrived at about 8.30am at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex to face charges related to money laundering, Najib arrived about 10 minutes later in the same building for a mention of one of his cases, involving criminal breach of trust and power abuse.
The media were out in full strength a few hours before their arrival to cover this historic day.
Most people were mainly focused however, on the images captured the moment when Rosmah got out of the vehicle that brought her from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in Putrajaya, where she had been detained since yesterday afternoon.
Based on comments on social media yesterday, many Malaysians would have been disappointed to see that she was not clad in the orange uniform that other MACC detainees had been made to wear.
Rosmah faces 17 money laundering charges
Rosmah, 66, has been brought before Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi to face 17 charges in total.
The charges framed against her are under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) 2001, The Star reported.
Rosmah’s long-awaited arrest
Rosmah was arrested yesterday after being called for questioning by MACC for the third time.
She was first called up to the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya on June 5 and again on Sept 26. In the latter visit, Rosmah was questioned by MACC officers for almost 13 hours.
It was reported on September 18 that Rosmah had been under investigation over the past two years but no action had been taken until four months ago, following the fall of the Barisan Nasional government, led by Najib, in the 14th general election (GE14).
In that first date with the MACC in June, she was questioned for about three hours, over allegations related to sources of funds connected to her husband.
Then, on September 24, MACC said its investigation into Rosmah over 20 criminal charges, mostly for money laundering, had been completed.
“Our investigation has been completed and the report has been submitted to the AG for the next move.
“The MACC is only responsible for carrying out the investigation and it is up to the AG whether to prosecute Rosmah or not,” MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Symbol of people power
The arrest and charges brought against Rosmah could be seen as a symbol of the mandate the people had given the Pakatan Harapan government in GE14 on May 9.
Many had anticipated this day especially with all the reported excesses attributed to her, including allegations of private use of government aircraft, high-end shopping trips and massive spending overseas.
RM116 million cash, RM440 million jewellery seized
This seemed even more evident after the police raid on premises linked to the former prime minister and his wife last May.
The police later revealed that RM116.7 million in cash was found in the 35 bags taken from the various locations. The money was said to comprise 26 currencies in various denominations.
Another 25 bags contained 12,000 items of jewellery, including rings and diamond earrings estimated to cost RM440 million in materials alone, were also seized according to the police. This does not include the hundreds of luxury handbags and other valuables, such as watches, seized.
Dr Mahathir: Enough evidence to proof guilt
In an interview with the New York Times on June 13, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Pakatan Harapan government had accumulated “enough evidence” to put Najib and Rosmah on trial.