Monday 27 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 7): Datuk Seri Najib Razak's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah made a sensational claim of what transpired during the Pardons Board meeting chaired by former Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on Jan 29.

Shafee said that the then YDPA was initially mulling to grant a full pardon to his client, but later changed it to a commuted sentence. Meanwhile, members of the Pardons Board, of which the YDPA was the chair, had recommended for the former prime minister to continue serving his sentence.

During a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex, Shafee said that he got the story through reliable reports on the matter on what transpired during the Pardons Board meeting.

"What happened on Jan 29? I'm told and I'm confident this happened, otherwise I wouldn't dare to tell you. On [Jan 29], the YDPA was thinking of a full pardon, but he wanted to be sure," said the senior lawyer.

Shafee said that the YDPA then gave four ballot papers or votes to the four non-permanent members of the Pardons Board to indicate their choices of a full pardon or not.

“He gave out the votes around to the four non-permanent members [of the Pardons Board] to put 'yes or no' for a full pardon,” Shafee said, adding that the pieces of paper were later returned to the YDPA.

"The results came back. I don't know what the results were. Then he (the YDPA) said, nevermind, I have decided the alternative. And the alternative is what this is," Shafee said while holding official letters of Najib’s commuted sentence.

Shafee also revealed that discussions on Najib's actual pardon started on Dec 8 last year, where it was heading towards a particular direction. Shafee stopped from revealing more about the purported “direction”.

"The actual detailed [pardon] discussions started on Dec 8, 2023. [It's] very detailed, I think. It went on for a couple hours, and they discussed Najib's matter and so on. It was going in a particular direction, which I'm not entitled to say. It's not nice because it is supposed to be a secret," the senior lawyer said.

However, the former YDPA decided to not make a decision on Najib’s pardon on Dec 8, 2023. There were several postponements leading up to the final meeting on Jan 29.

'Pardons Board recommended that Najib continue serving his sentence'

One theme that clearly struck out throughout the press conference on Wednesday was the purported discrepancies surrounding the pardon decision.

Shafee also divulged that the Pardons Board had recommended to the YDPA for the former finance minister to continue serving his sentence.

The senior lawyer extracted this information from a separate document received by Najib titled "Early Release Order" (Perintah Pembebasan Awal) signed and sealed by the YDPA.

The document was not dated, and was addressed to the director general of prisons. Shafee said that a three-page letter dated Jan 29, signed by Federal Territories Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, was attached to it.

Reading out its contents, Shafee said that the Pardons Board had advised the YDPA that Najib continue serving his sentence. However, Shafee also added that within the same document, the YDPA said that it seemed reasonable for him to practise his discretion that compassion had to be given to Najib. This was followed by the indication of the commuted jail term and a reduction in the fine.

Shafee said the document also indicated that the YDPA had signed and sealed the document. However, it bore Zaliha's signature.

It has to also be pointed out that Shafee merely showed the media these documents, but did not share physical copies of them.

The senior lawyer pointed out earlier that although the YDPA could consult and listen to the advice of others, the sole discretionary power to grant the pardon rested on the YDPA.

Najib was serving a 12-year prison sentence in Kajang after the apex court dismissed his final appeal in the RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd case in August 2022. He was also slapped with a RM210 million fine.

But the Pardons Board announced last week that the former prime minister's jail time had been halved to six years, while the fine was reduced to RM50 million.

Shafee also confirmed on Wednesday that his client had yet to pay the fine, and that the grounds for the pardon filed in early September were that the former prime minister did not receive a fair trial to begin with.

Najib's defence team is also "seriously" mulling a fresh application for a full pardon, but will await the right time to send it in.

Edited ByKamarul Azhar Azmi
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