Mahathir facing defamation probe over Najib blog

February 16, 2016 08:26
Mahathir Mohamad is facing several police complaints relating to his blog attacks on the Malaysian attorney general over the 1MDB financial scandal. Photo: Reuters

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad is being investigated for defamation over blog posts criticizing the attorney general for not bringing corruption charges against Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Several police reports have been lodged against Mahathir over his attack on Attorney General Mohamad Apandi, Reuters reports, citing the police inspector general.

In a Feb. 5 post on his personal blog, Mahathir said Apandi Ali had "no credibility" after he cleared Najib of any criminal offenses or corruption arising from a graft probe into a US$681 million deposit in Najib's personal bank account.

Najib replaced the previous attorney general and appointed Apandi just weeks after a Wall Street Journal report on 1MDB revealed the deposits of vast sums in Najib's account.

The feud between Malaysia's past and current leaders has gripped the Southeast Asian nation for almost a year, with Mahathir repeatedly calling on Najib, his former protege, to step down over a financial scandal at indebted state-fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Apandi closed investigations into Najib earlier this month after concluding that the money was a gift from a member of the Saudi royal family and most of it had been returned..

"We will investigate according to the proper legal procedures. If there is a case to be made, we will discuss it with the attorney general's chambers and take further action if needed," said Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.

Mahathir on Monday used his blog account to issue his own challenge to Apandi.

"As a good Muslim, he should swear on the Koran in a mosque witnessed by mosque officials and the public that the reports did not implicate Najib in any way," wrote Mahathir.

"He should not try to cheat by vowing in his heart something else, and swearing aloud something else. That would be a double sin. He will go to a worse hell."

In several earlier blog posts, Mahathir had accused Apandi of protecting Najib and expressed doubts about Apandi’s willingness to cooperate with his counterpart in a Swiss investigation into 1MDB.

To shore up his position, Najib has silenced dissenters within his party, in the opposition and the government.

Aside from replacing the attorney general, he also sacked his deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, last year.

Earlier this month Najib loyalists within the United Malays National Organisation forced Mahathir's son, Mukhriz Mahathir, to quit as chief minister of the northern state of Kedah.

Mahathir was also questioned by the police in November after he made a surprise appearance at an anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur and called for Najib to resign. But no action has been taken so far.

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