Malaysia ex-PM’s wife seeks to remove judge ahead of verdict

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The wife of jailed Malaysian ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak has sought to remove the judge set to deliver a verdict in her graft trial Thursday, citing a loss of confidence after an alleged guilty judgment was leaked online.

Rosmah Mansor faces three charges of soliciting bribes and receiving 6.5 million ringgit ($1.5 million) between 2016 and 2017 to help a company secure a 1.25 billion ringgit ($279 million) project to provide solar energy panels to schools on Borneo island.

The verdict comes a week after Najib began his 12-year prison term after losing his final appeal in one of the five graft cases against him involving the pilfering of the 1MDB state fund.

In her application filed Tuesday, Rosmah cited a 71-page document posted last Friday on a website that allegedly contained a guilty judgment against her. She said she was shocked to read it was not written by the judge himself but by unknown people in the court’s “research unit.”

As such, Rosmah said she was not confident that High Court Judge Zaini Mazlan can carry out his duty fairly as he may be influenced by third parties. She is asking Zaini to recuse himself Thursday and for a retrial by a new judge.

Malaysia’s top court slammed the action of the website, run by a blogger based in England, as “a deliberate act” to smear the court’s reputation and has lodged a complaint with police. Police have said the leaked document was research work on the ongoing trial and not a judgment.

The Federal Court earlier filed a police report against the same website for publishing what it said was the Federal Court’s guilty verdict against Najib, just before the ruling was read in court. The court has said that leaked document was a working draft of the ruling.

If found guilty, Rosmah, 70, is expected to appeal to higher courts and to remain free on bail pending their rulings.

The couple have been hit with multiple counts of graft after the shocking ouster of Najib’s United Malays National Organization political party in the 2018 elections, fueled by public anger over the 1MDB scandal. UMNO has since returned to power after the reformist government that won those elections collapsed.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.