Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years' jail by the High Court yesterday, 28 July
He was also fined RM210 million for abuse of power while he was serving as the country's premier and finance minister.
Despite the sentencing, Najib did not have to put on an orange prison uniform and spend his night in jail last night.
1. Why has Najib not gone to jail yet?
Following the sentencing yesterday, High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali granted a stay of execution after hearing arguments from both the defence and prosecution team.
A stay of execution is a court order to temporarily suspend the execution of a judgement or other court order.
During mitigation, defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah pleaded to the Judge to consider Najib's circumstances. He argued that if his client was incarcerated, it would make it difficult for Najib to defend himself in other cases, reported Malay Mail.
Other than the SRC International trial, Najib is also currently facing charges in other courts for the 1MDB and 1MDB audit tampering cases. Being in jail would hinder Najib's fight in those cases, according to the defence lawyer.
2. How much does Najib have to pay to be able to walk free as of now?
Since Najib is granted a stay of execution, Nazlan raised his bail by an additional RM1 million. He paid RM1 million in bail when he was first charged, according to New Straits Times.
The 67-year-old politician has paid the bail today, 29 July. In total, he has paid RM2 million.
Also, from now on, Najib has to report to any police station every first and 15th of the month. The Judge said that Najib's status as an accused has since changed to a convict.
3. Why will Najib not be imprisoned for 72 years in total?
In the SRC International trial, Najib was found guilty on all seven charges. Here is the breakdown of the penalties according to each charge:
Abuse of power
- One count; charged under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act
- 12 years' jail
- RM210 million fine
Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT)
- Three counts; charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code
- 10 years' jail for each offence
- Three counts; charged under Section 4(1)(b) Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) 2001
- 10 years' jail for each offence
Many netizens questioned why Najib was not sentenced to 72 years in jail.
The answer is because the Judge ordered the jail terms to run concurrently - meaning to run at the same time. Since the highest jail term is 12 years under the abuse of power charge, the former premier will only face 12 years' imprisonment.
According to a report by The Star, judges have the power to impose sentences to be served concurrently or consecutively after taking into account the facts of the case and mitigating circumstances. Hence, it is believed that Judge Nazlan listened to both side in mitigation and arrived to a conclusion that Najib's sentences should be served concurrently.
Meanwhile, it is also worth noting that if Najib fails to pay the RM210 million fine, he will get an additional five years' jail.
4. Can Najib still serve as Pekan Member of Parliament (MP)?
Yes, as of now, he can.
While Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution states that an MP will lose his seat at the Dewan Rakyat if he or she is convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail for more than one year or fined more than RM2,000, the process is not immediate.
Constitutional lawyer Lim Wei Jiet told Malay Mail that the MP can file an appeal within 14 days to secure his constituency seat.
"The vacation of such a seat would only happen if the appeals have been exhausted and the conviction is upheld by the appellate courts," said Lim.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun also made a public statement yesterday, assuring that Najib still has the right to attend Parliament sessions, reported Bernama.
5. Can Najib still prove that he is innocent?
Since the case was tried in the High Court, Najib and his defence team still have two more chances to challenge the decision made by Nazlan.
Until now, the SRC International trial was presided by only one judge. Najib's lawyer Shafee said he will appeal the case at the Court of Appeal, where the case will be heard by three judges, reported The Star.
If that fails, he said the case can be brought to the Federal Court, where seven other judgers will hear the case.
According to The Edge Markets, the defence team will make the first appeal to the Court of Appeal within three months. Should the case go up to the Federal Court, it will take another four months.
"So we are looking at a total exhaustion of all the appellate matters within seven months," Shafee told reporters last night.
"I am looking forward to this appeal like I have never looked forward to any appeals before, because this is a very exciting appeal that we want to close it as quickly as possible."
6. Can Najib become prime minister again?
Since Najib's status is currently a convict, he cannot contest in an election if a snap poll is called in the near future.
Article 48(3) of the Federal Constitution stipulated that if an MP is convicted of a crime that carries more than one year's jail and over RM2,000 fine, he or she cannot run for office to be an MP for a period of five years from the date of his sentence, said constitutional lawyer Lim, reported Malay Mail.
However, this can be reversed if Najib receives a royal pardon by the Agong and clears him from any wrongdoings - just like the case with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim shortly after Pakatan Harapan won the 14th General Election. It eventually saw him contest in the Port Dickson by-election.
Najib is 67 years old now. If appellate courts maintain the sentences, Najib will only come out of jail at the age of 79. Since the ban to contest in an election is five years - shorter than the 12 years' jail sentence - Najib can contest in an election once he is a free man.
If he gathers enough support from the rakyat and his coalition, he can still become a prime minister.