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Malaysian court orders wife of ex-PM Najib to enter defence in graft trial

KUALA LUMPUR – The wife of Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor, will have to defend herself against allegations of accepting RM6.5 million (S$2.14 million) in bribes and soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe in relation to electricity supply to rural schools in Sarawak.

Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said the prosecution has established a prima facie case for Rosmah to answer.

“I find that the prosecution has succeeded in proving a prima facie case,” said the judge, adding that the prosecution had adduced “credible evidence”.

Upon hearing the decision, Rosmah consulted with her lawyer and elected to give evidence on oath.

Rosmah, 69, is charged with three counts of receiving RM6.5 million in bribes in 2016 from Jepak Holdings director Saidi Abang Samsudin to ensure the company won a RM1.25 billion tender to install and maintain solar hybrid and diesel generators for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

She also faces a charge of soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe from Mr Saidi for the project.

The court had heard testimonies from 23 witnesses from Feb 5 to Dec 11, with the prosecution arguing that Rosmah had knowledge that the money came from Jepak Holdings.

Among the witnesses called were Mr Saidi, Rosmah’s former special officer Rizal Mansor, former education minister Mahdzir Khalid and the ministry’s then secretary-general Madinah Mohamed.

Rosmah was initially jointly tried with Rizal, 46, who was charged with four counts of soliciting and receiving bribes on her behalf.

However, the court acquitted Rizal of all four charges in January last year after the prosecution dropped them and he testified against his former employer.

In July last year, Mr Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah, a Jepak business partner, said Mr Saidi admitted to paying RM6.5 million to Rosmah for her role in securing the solar project for the company.

Mr Rayyan said the first payment amounting to RM5 million was made through Rizal.

He added that the second payment was made in September 2017 when he and Mr Saidi went to Rosmah’s house.

Mr Rayyan said he saw Mr Saidi’s driver entering and placing two black backpacks with orange stripes by the sofa in the living room.

He said Mr Saidi told Rosmah that another payment would follow and that she nodded and said “OK.”

“I only knew that the two backpacks contained RM1.5 million in cash after being told by Saidi when we left Rosmah’s house,” he said.

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If convicted, Rosmah faces a maximum jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of five times the amount received.

She also faces a charge of soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe from Mr Saidi for the project.

Najib was also present when the High Court delivered its verdict.

The former prime minister’s counsel Shafee Abdullah made an application for his client to be allowed to attend the proceedings before attending his own trial involving the abuse of RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds.

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