Jailed Malaysia's ex-PM Najib petitions king for pardon

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FILE - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, wearing a face mask, waves as he arrives at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. Jailed Malaysian ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak returned to court Thursday for a second corruption trial over the pilfering of the 1MDB state fund, two days after he began a 12-year prison term for graft. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Jailed former Prime Minister Najib Razak has sought a pardon from Malaysia's king and will remain a lawmaker pending his petition, Parliament's speaker said Monday.

Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said the pardon request was submitted Sept. 2, less than two weeks after Najib began a 12-year prison term after losing his final appeal on Aug. 23 in a graft case linked to the looting of the 1MDB state fund.

Azhar said Najib's parliamentary seat will not be vacated until King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah decides on his pardon request. It is unclear how long the process will take. If he isn't pardoned before September 2023, when general elections are due, Najib, 69, cannot run in the polls and will automatically lose his parliamentary seat.

Local media cited Najib's aide as saying he was reportedly admitted to a hospital on Sunday but the cause of his ailment is unclear. The Prison Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

Najib’s bid for pardon will not affect his four other criminal trials over the 1MDB scandal. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, was last week sentenced to 10 year in prison and a record 970 million ringgit ($216 million) fine for corruption over a solar energy project.

Najib and Rosmah have been hit with multiple graft charges after the shocking ouster of his United Malays National Organization in the 2018 elections, fueled by public anger over the 1MDB scandal. UMNO has since returned to power after defections caused the collapse of the reformist government that won the 2018 polls.

1MDB was a development fund that Najib set up after taking office. Investigators allege more than $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s associates through layers of bank accounts in the U.S. and other countries to finance Hollywood films and extravagant purchases that included hotels, a luxury yacht, art works and jewelry.