Jailed former prime minister Najib Razak is being held in solitary confinement inside a high-security wing at Kajang prison but is not receiving any special treatment, a senior source told Reuters on Thursday. BenarNews.
The ex-PM, who used to dine at the best restaurants in the world, now eats the same prison food as other inmates, but in concession to his asthma, he does it under the roar of a fan ceiling, the source said.
“Even though Najib has VIP status, he doesn’t get preferential treatment. He is treated like any other prisoner,” the source, who was not authorized to speak to reporters, told BenarNews.
Najib, 69, was taken to jail outside Kuala Lumpur on August 23 to serve a 12-year sentence, when he lost his final appeal over his 2020 conviction in a corruption case linked to the financial scandal 1MDB.
Najib, who reportedly owns an apartment in the luxury Pavilion Residences condominium in Kuala Lumpur, now takes cold showers like other inmates, the source said, adding that the former prime minister’s cell did not have a phone charger or private toilets.
“The solitary confinement cell is equipped with the same facilities as the special cells holding other prisoners who also require high security care,” the source said.
Additionally, the former Malaysian prime minister no longer has access to the fancy suits he was seen sporting during his trial over allegations that he illegally received US$9.67 million from a 1Malaysia affiliate. Development Berhad, a public investment fund.
“[He wears a] White shirt, white pants like other prisoners,” the source said.
However, security around the prison has been tightened due to Najib’s VIP status, the source said.
Najib served as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018.
“As a former prominent leader of the country, security measures will certainly be enhanced to ensure his safety while in custody at the Department of Prisons,” the source said.
Earlier this week, Kejang Prison issued a statement refuting rumors that the former prime minister was living in a house for senior corrections officials on the prison grounds.
“The information is false. Stop spreading it,” the department said on Facebook.
Despite filing a request for a royal pardon as well as a request for a review of the Federal Court’s decision upholding his conviction, Najib will have to remain in prison while these requests are considered, as dictated by the laws.
In July 2020, the Kuala Lumpur High Court convicted Najib of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering for illegally receiving 42 million ringgit from SRC International, a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
But Najib escaped jail for two years by appealing the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s July 2020 verdict, first to the Court of Appeal and then to the Federal Higher Court, and was released on bail. bail of 2 million ringgits (448,500 USD).
“Revise in very rare cases”
Less than two weeks after being sent to prison, Najib asked the king for a pardon. Although this petition did not get him out of jail either, it ensured that Najib would remain an MP until the King rules on his request for a pardon, Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said on Monday. in a press release.
The former leader, however, cannot run in the general election unless he is pardoned.
Then late on Tuesday, Najib asked Malaysia’s highest court to review its decision upholding his bribery conviction, alleging miscarriage of justice.
“The Federal Court will only allow a reconsideration in very rare cases,” attorney Akberdin Abdul Kader told BenarNews, adding that a reconsideration is not considered an appeal, which means Najib remains in jail. while the court considers whether to allow the application.
Meanwhile, Najib is on trial in another case on 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering related to 2.3 billion ringgit ($551 million) that disappeared from 1MDB. He could also face trial on 10 additional outstanding charges.
Najib, a senior leader of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party, established 1MDB in 2009 when he was prime minister and finance minister, saying it would benefit the Malaysian people.
More than $4.5 billion has been diverted from 1MDB through fraudulent front companies to corrupt officials and their associates, according to the US Department of Justice.
The 1MDB scandal resulted in UMNO’s expulsion from power in the 2018 general election, a first for the grand old party which had not lost national polls in Malaysia’s 60-year history.