Authorities in Malaysia have halved the sentence of Najib Razak, a former prime minister convicted of stealing millions of dollars from a government fund, a move that has triggered outrage in the country.

The leniency for Najib comes after weeks of speculation in Malaysia that he might be pardoned by King Sultan Abdullah, whose tenure under Malaysia’s unique rotational monarchy ended Tuesday. But many analysts had said it was unlikely that Najib, who has served only 17 months of his term, would receive any form of clemency because he is still facing three continuing criminal cases related to what is known as the 1MDB scandal.

On Friday, Malaysia’s Pardons Board said that Najib, who began a 12-year sentence in 2022, will instead be released in August 2028 and his fine reduced to $11 million, one-quarter of the previous fine. But according to Malaysian law, he could be released even earlier, in August 2026, if he applies for parole after serving half of his term.