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Court to hear Malaysia ex-leader Najib's appeal of jail sentence

Najib Razak mounted the last-ditch appeal before the country's highest court after his previous plea was rejected by an appeals court last December. ©AFP

Putrajaya (Malaysia) (AFP) - Malaysia's highest court said Tuesday it would hear former leader Najib Razak's final bid to overturn his 12-year jail sentence for corruption, with an acquittal potentially clearing the way for his return to power.

The Federal Court's decision to proceed with the hearing starting Thursday came after it rejected the former prime minister's plea for a retrial.

"There is, to our minds, no miscarriage of justice," Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said in court, reading from a unanimous decision by a five-judge panel that she heads, after two days of hearings.

"We find that the applicant has failed to cross the high threshold of (the law)...In the circumstances, the motion (to admit fresh evidence for a retrial) is hereby dismissed."

Najib's lawyer asked for the court to adjourn for three to four months before starting the hearing but the panel, after some deliberation, rejected that.

It set the hearing to start Thursday, to last eight days.

Najib, 69, mounted the last-ditch appeal before the country's highest court after his previous plea was rejected by an appeals court last December.

He was convicted in July 2020 of corruption linked to state fund 1MDB and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

"The stark reality is that considerable public funds would be wasted if granting an adjournment in a case of this kind was an easier option," the chief justice said.

"Justice cannot be unduly delayed.Justice delayed is also justice denied to others," she added.

Najib and his ruling party were unceremoniously tossed out of office in 2018 elections following allegations of their involvement in a multibillion-dollar scandal at 1MDB.

The former prime minister and his associates were accused of stealing billions of dollars from the country's investment vehicle and spending it on everything from high-end real estate to pricey art.

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