05 April 2021, Malaysia, Putrajaya: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) arrives at the court of appeal in Putrajaya. The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear Razak's appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. Photo: Faisal Jaafar/BERNAMA/dpa
05 April 2021, Malaysia, Putrajaya: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) arrives at the court of appeal in Putrajaya. The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear Razak's appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. Photo: Faisal Jaafar/BERNAMA/dpa

(dpa ) – Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak’s attempt to overturn his corruption conviction was deal an early blow when the country’s Court of Appeal refused his request for a one-month adjournment of the hearings, which started on Monday.

Judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said there was insufficient grounds to postpone the hearings after Najib’s defence team sought several bank statements and communications records from the prosecution.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail on July 28 at the end of the first of five trials related to large-scale graft during his nine years as premier, which ended in a shock defeat in 2018 elections fought in part over the scandals.

Najib was found guilty of money laundering, abuse of office and breach of trust after almost 10 million dollars were allegedly stolen from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, a state fund set up by Najib in 2009.

Twelve days of hearings are scheduled for this month, with Najib submitting 307 grounds for appeal of the sentence, which included a fine of 210 million ringgit (50.7 million dollars).

Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told media at the court on Monday that the judge who found Najib guilty was not experienced enough. “One would expect a senior judge, with experience in criminal matters, to be sent,” he said.

Up to 4.5 billion dollars could have been looted from 1MDB, according to the US Department of Justice, which has repatriated hundreds of millions of dollars to Malaysia after recovering assets – including Picasso artwork and a luxury yacht – it said were purchased with money stolen from the fund.

One of Najib’s other ongoing trials centres on allegations he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund, money he has claimed was a donation from Saudi Arabia.

Najib is free on bail, pending the appeal, and remains a member of parliament for the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the biggest party in the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin was Najib’s deputy premier before being fired in 2015 after criticising Najib over the corruption accusations.

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