Malaysian ex-first lady Rosmah Mansor handed 10-year sentence in bribery case

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Malaysian former first lady Rosmah Mansor has been ordered to serve 10 years in prison after being found guilty of soliciting and receiving bribes during her husband’s corruption-tainted administration, a week after he was imprisoned over the massive looting of the 1MDB state fund.

Rosmah was found guilty on three charges of soliciting bribes and receiving 6.5 million ringgit (£1.25 million) between 2016 and 2017 to help a company secure a project to provide solar energy panels to schools on Borneo.

The court sentenced the 70-year-old to 10 years in prison on each charge, to be served concurrently, and a fine of 970 million ringgit (£186 million).

She will remain free on bail pending her appeal to higher courts.

High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt that Rosmah corruptly solicited bribes and received money as a reward for herself. He said her defence was a bare denial.

Her husband Najib Razak began a 12-year prison term last week after losing his final appeal in one of the five cases against him involving the multibillion-pound theft from 1MDB.

Malaysia Najib
Najib Razak (AP)

Prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said Rosmah’s application was made in bad faith to delay her verdict. He said there was nothing wrong if the judge did request the view of the court’s research unit. Such a system of judicial research is accepted in many countries and doesn’t discredit the court nor imply any bias, he added.

Malaysia’s top court earlier criticised the action of the website, run by a blogger based in England, as “a deliberate act” to smear the court’s reputation.

Last week, the same website published a document it said was the Federal Court’s guilty verdict against Najib, just before the ruling was read out in court. The court has said that leaked document was a working draft of the ruling. The court has filed complaints with police over both leaks.

Rosmah made an emotional plea from the dock, saying she was saddened and felt she was not given justice. She said she had never solicited any funds or taken any money even while she was heading charity foundations during her time as the prime minister’s wife.

“If that’s your conclusion, I surrender to God,” she said.

Rosmah’s trial had shed light on her alleged sway in the government since her husband took office in 2009. Prosecutors said she wielded considerable influence due to her “overbearing nature”, even though she held no official position.

Witnesses said a special department, called First Lady of Malaysia, was set up to handle her affairs.

The couple have been hit with multiple counts of corruption after the shocking removal of Najib’s United Malays National Organisation in 2018 elections, fuelled by public anger over the 1MDB scandal.

UMNO has since returned to power after defections caused the collapse of the reformist government that won 2018 polls.

After Najib lost power, police raiding family residences seized hundreds of boxes of luxury handbags, 423 watches, 14 tiaras and other jewellery plus cash estimated at more than 1.1 billion ringgit (£211 million).

Rosmah has also been charged with laundering illegal proceeds and tax evasion linked to 1MDB in another trial that has not started.

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