Malaysia’s former first lady grilled for eight hours

Rosmah Mansor, center, the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, arrives at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office in Putrajaya on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Malaysia’s former first lady grilled for eight hours

  • Rosmah Mansor, wife of ex-PM Najib Razak, was questioned for eight hours by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission at the agency’s headquarters.
  • If found guilty, Mansor may face more than 20 criminal charges mostly related to money laundering. 

KUALA LUMPUR: Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was brought in for questioning by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection to the 1MDB state fund probe on Wednesday.

The former first lady faced an eight-hour long interrogation at the agency’s headquarters in Putrajaya. It was her second summons in connection with the money transfers into her husband’s bank account that aroused suspicion. Her first interrogation session in June lasted for three hours.

Clad in green headscarf and traditional Malay ensemble, Mansor arrived at the MACC building at 9.50 a.m. in a black car. She was quickly ushered into the building with her lawyers for questioning.

Local and international journalists had been crowding the MACC building as early as 6.30 a.m.

This was the second time she was called in for questioning by the Malaysia anti-graft investigators. Mansor was probed in June at the MACC headquarters on the case related to the scandal-plagued 1MDB-linked company, SRC International.

“The public continues to demand thorough, transparent and fair investigations into 1MDB. It is imperative that all parties continue to render assistance to the investigative authorities,” said Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a Malaysian political analyst at the Pacific Research Center.

Malaysia anti-graft deputy chief commissioner Azam Baki said on Thursday that the commission “did not dismiss the possibility of Rosmah being prosecuted soon,” according to Malaysia’s Bernama portal. Mansor could soon face more than 20 criminal charges, mostly related to money laundering, according to local media reports.

Better known for her love of Birkin bags and expensive jewelry, Mansor has had an extravagant lifestyle which has been linked to the former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos’s wife, Emelda Marcos. Marcos was known for her extensive collection of shoes.

In May, the Pakatan Harapan political coalition won a surprise landslide election and took office. The elections upset triggered a domino effect over the 1MDB scandal when the new Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, vowed to reopen the case.

In May, Najib Razak and his wife were barred from the country and rumors swirled that the couple would head out to Indonesia.

In June, the Malaysian police had its biggest seizure of $275 million worth of luxury goods. These include 567 designer handbags, 12,000 pieces of jewelry, 423 watches and cash at Razak and Mansor’s homes. These items were suspected to be bought from money linked to the 1MDB state funds.

Razak is facing 30 court charges over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB-linked corruption scandal, which includes money laundering, abuse of power, and criminal breach of trust.


7-year-old immigrant girl dies after Border Patrol arrest

Updated 6 min 47 sec ago
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7-year-old immigrant girl dies after Border Patrol arrest

  • Immigrants, attorneys and activists have long raised issues with the conditions of Border Patrol holding cells
  • The death of the 7-year-old comes after a toddler died in May just after being released from an ICE family detention facility in Texas

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico: A 7-year-old girl who crossed the US-Mexico border with her father last week died after being taken into the custody of the US Border Patrol, federal immigration authorities confirmed Thursday.
The Washington Post reports the girl died of dehydration and shock more than eight hours after she was arrested by agents near Lordsburg, New Mexico. The girl was from Guatemala and was traveling with a group of 163 people who approached agents to turn themselves in on Dec. 6.
It’s unknown what happened to the girl during the eight hours before she started having seizures and was flown to an El Paso hospital.
In a statement, Customs and Border Protection said the girl had not eaten or consumed water in several days.
The agency did not provide The Associated Press with the statement it gave to the Post, despite repeated requests.
Processing 163 immigrants in one night could have posed challenges for the agency, whose detention facilities are meant to be temporary and don’t usually fit that many people.
When a Border Patrol agent arrests someone, that person gets processed at a facility but usually spends no more than 72 hours in custody before they are either transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or, if they’re Mexican, quickly deported home.
The girl’s death raises questions about whether border agents knew she was ill and whether she was fed anything or given anything to drink during the eight-plus hours she was in custody.
Immigrants, attorneys and activists have long raised issues with the conditions of Border Patrol holding cells. In Tucson, an ongoing lawsuit claims holding cells are filthy, extremely cold and lacking basic necessities such as blankets. A judge overseeing that lawsuit has ordered the agency’s Tucson Sector, which patrols much of the Arizona-Mexico border, to provide blankets and mats to sleep on and to continually turn over surveillance footage from inside the cells.
The Border Patrol has seen an increasing trend of large groups of immigrants, many with young children, walking up to agents and turning themselves in. Most are Central American and say they are fleeing violence. They turn themselves in instead of trying to circumvent authorities, many with plans to apply for asylum.
Agents in Arizona see groups of over 100 people on a regular basis, sometimes including infants and toddlers.
Arresting such groups poses logistical problems for agents who have to wait on transport vans that are equipped with baby seats to take them to processing facilities, some which are at least half hour north of the border.
The death of the 7-year-old comes after a toddler died in May just after being released from an ICE family detention facility in Texas, and as the administration of Donald Trump attempts to ban people from asking for asylum if they crossed the border illegally. A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked that ban, but the administration asked the US Supreme Court to reinstate it Tuesday.
Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said migrant deaths increased last year even as the number of border crossing dropped.
“This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions. Lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths,” Pompa said.