Early release for Najib only with full pardon, says lawyer

A Srimurugan says Najib Razak is not entitled to one-third remission or parole as his sentence was commuted by the pardons board, and not by a court.

(FMT) – Former prime minister Najib Razak’s hopes of early release from prison will rest only on a full pardon, according to a lawyer who disputes claims that Najib was entitled to a one-third remission of his sentence or to parole.

A Srimurugan said Najib faced another obstacle towards early release – his current trial, and two other cases that have yet to be tried.

He disagreed with claims by other lawyers that Najib could serve even less than six years after the Federal Territories Pardons Board halved the original 12-year jail sentence.

He said remission of one-third of a sentence did not apply as the new jail term was a result of a commutation by the board, which is headed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and was not a sentence handed down by a court.

It was the board that fixed the date of Aug 23, 2028 for Najib to be freed, or after an extra year in prison if he failed to settle a RM50 million fine, which the board had reduced from the original RM210 million.

He said the commutation of sentence does not entitle Najib to a further one-third remission or parole, as is the practice with criminal convictions.

“He has only one option, that is to apply for a full pardon like the one Anwar Ibrahim obtained in 2018,” when Anwar received a royal pardon for his sodomy conviction.

Yesterday, lawyers Kitson Foong and Rafique Rashid contended that Najib could obtain a remission of his jail term. Berita Harian quoted Foong as saying that Najib’s new six-year term could be reduced by two years for good behaviour and he could be released from prison as early as January next year.

Srimurugan said Najib’s three sets of pending charges were another obstacle to overcome in terms of securing an earlier release.

Najib is currently on trial on 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power over RM2.28 billion in funds allegedly from 1MDB. The case is at the prosecution stage.

Two other cases have yet to go to trial.

He is jointly charged with former Treasury secretary-general Irwan Serigar Abdullah on six charges of misappropriating RM6.64 billion in public funds to make payments to Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Co.

He also faces three counts of money laundering amounting to RM27 million, involving SRC International funds.