Former Prime Minister Najib indicted, arrested for corruption

The misuse of US$ 4.5 billion in state funds shocked the nation, precipitating Najib’s downfall. The former PM risks two to 20 years in prison for each count, but his spokesperson says the indictment is an act of “political vengeance” of current PM Mahathir.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Razak, has urged her supporters not to shed tears over her husband’s indictment today. "Don't ever cry. I don't want anybody to cry," she said.

Najib, 64, was taken into custody yesterday after charges were laid on three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

He is accused of misusing up to US$ 4.5 billion in public funds, a scandal that has led to his downfall. Each charge could land him two to 20 years in prison.

The affair has caused anger and outrage among Malaysian voters, contributing to Najib’s election defeat on 9 May, effectively ending the 61-year rule of the Barisan Nasional coalition.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Najib's spokesman said the charges "are politically motivated and the result of political vengeance" by the new Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. Najib will contest the charges and clear his name in court, it added.

For his part, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, the newly-appointed vice president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party, believes that Najib’s corruption trial will clean up the party’s image with voters. Najib headed the UMNO party until 12 May.

"As a strong believer in our democratic institutions, I believe that this is a good chance to liberate UMNO from the constant barrage of negative speculation, especially in relation to SRC International," said Khaled today.