Najib files petition with UN Council seeking his release, or retrial

By , in Courts Crime Nation on .

Kuala Lumpur, January 5 — Disgraced politician Najib Razak has submitted a petition to the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) asking for a release or retrial following the Federal Court decision to uphold his prison sentence to serve a 12-year jail term.

His lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Najib was asking the UNWGAD panel, comprising five experts on international justice, to rule that the Federal Court’s dismissal of his appeal on Aug 23, 2022, was unjust and flawed, and violated his basic rights as well as the Federal Constitution. 

“The Federal Court proceedings failed to accord him a reasonable opportunity to argue his case and denied his lawyers adequate time to prepare it.”

“The court did not allow his defence team even to make submissions in the appeal against his sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment.”


“In essence, Najib was sent to jail without the opportunity to defend himself at the Federal Court,” Shafee was reported as saying at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

Najib was convicted in July 2020 by High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Ghazali of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds. 

The decision was upheld by both the Court of Appeal and Federal Court. 

Lawyers for the former leader had accused judge Nazlan of conflict of interest owing to his past involvement with Maybank. The argument was however dismissed by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who led the panel of judges hearing Najib’s final appeal.

Shafee said the final days of Najib’s appeal, during which time the former leader discharged and replaced his entire defence team, had amounted to a “rushed justice” as his lawyers were not allowed the time needed to go through the appeal papers or come to grips with the grounds of appeal. 

While any ruling by the UNWGAD would not be directly binding, he said, it would be “very influential”, especially since Malaysia had a jurist who was currently a member of the working group. 

“They will not be called upon to decide whether Najib is guilty, but to determine whether his trial was fair.”

“If not, they may call upon the government to release him or provide him with a retrial,” he said. 

Adding that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim himself was an advocate of the UNWGAD, and had described its opinion as “an important milestone on my journey to freedom”, Shafee said Najib expressed hope that the government would follow the panel’s ruling once it is made available. 

In 2015, the UNWGAD had called Anwar’s imprisonment for a sodomy conviction “arbitrary and illegal”, urging the Malaysian government to free him immediately.

Putrajaya had then described the call as baseless, and explained that Anwar’s jailing was not political, adding that he was accorded the same treatment as other prisoners.


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