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Tommy Thomas: Why SRC was picked as first 1MDB-related court case

EXCLUSIVE | Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, who initiated prosecutions for the Najib Abdul Razak trials, finally broke his silence in this exclusive interview.

He spoke extensively and frankly on the SRC International trial where former prime minister Najib was found guilty of seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42 million.

It was a trial filled with delay and drama, anxiety and agony, acrimony and accusation, politics and perception but after Najib was finally jailed, it turned into a huge debate about pardon and punishment.

Thomas takes us through each of the stages. In this first part of a four-part series, he talks about the background and how it all began. Part 2 will discuss the court processes of the trial and the inordinate delays, Part 3 the Federal Court decision and its implications, and finally, Part 4 will talk about the pardon process.

After Pakatan Harapan came into power in May 2018 and Thomas was appointed attorney-general, a number of corruption charges against politicians and others were initiated. Besides Najib, they include Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Ahmad Maslan, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Bung Moktar Radin.

Malaysiakini: What led you to first choose SRC as the first case to prosecute? Was it the most straightforward from a legal point of view?

Tommy Thomas: To some extent, the choice was made for me because lawyers have to depend on instructions and, in this case, investigation papers.

So imagine the DPPs (deputy public prosecutors) and myself as lawyers looking at documents given by somebody else. In this case, it was the MACC investigations, as opposed to other agencies. And MACC said that the file they were working on in the past was SRC (International). They confirmed the rumours circulating in KL (Kuala Lumpur), which was around the time one of my predecessors, Abdul Gani Patail, who was sacked in July 2016 that MACC were quite advanced in investigating SRC, so it was just carrying on that work.

That was the principal factor - the file came to me. As it turned out, fortuitously, SRC was the easiest to prove, because if you stripped it of everything, it was just a theft of RM42 million. So, it was easy to...

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