KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 22): Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman's defence team has failed in another bid to impeach the prosecution's star witness, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia youth wing's ex-assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali, in the former youth and sports minister's ongoing trial.
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid on Monday (Aug 22) ruled that the differences in Rafiq's Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) statement and his testimony in the court did not lead to serious discrepancies or material contradictions.
Therefore, he said that there is no need for impeachment proceedings.
Previously on July 25, Azhar agreed with the defence that there were discrepancies in Rafiq's testimony, and ruled that the prosecution must submit Rafiq's MACC statement — recorded during his detention in 2020 — to the court, before it decides on the next course of action with regard to the impeachment.
MACC statements are generally considered privileged documents, which are not accessible to any parties, including the court.
To impeach a witness is to discredit the accuracy or truth of their testimony.
Following the decision, lead defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo then applied for Rafiq's MACC statement to be given to them, and the matter will be heard on Monday afternoon.
The defence is looking to impeach Rafiq based on his contradictory testimony given in the court. The prosecution's 13th witness also admitted to the contradiction when it was pointed out during cross-examination last month.
Among the discrepancies in his testimony, the witness said the Muar Member of Parliament (MP) had asked him to withdraw RM1 million during a meeting at his home. But in his statement, he said the instruction to withdraw the money was given through a WhatsApp call.
The defence contended that these discrepancies are not "minor", but instead go to the heart of the charges that the MP faces in the trial.
The prosecution, however, maintained that there is no reason to commence impeachment proceedings because the witness himself had admitted to the contradiction.
Rafiq is a central witness to the charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and misappropriation of RM1.12 million of funds belonging to the party that Syed Saddiq faces in the trial.
For the first count, Syed Saddiq is charged with abetting Rafiq in committing CBT involving RM1 million of funds belonging to the party in March 2020.
As for the second charge, the MP is charged under Section 403 of the Penal Code with misusing RM120,000 in party contributions, raised through a Maybank Islamic Bhd account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise (ABBE) in April 2018.
ABBE was a company set up to generate income for the party's wing through merchandise sales. Rafiq was its sole account holder.
The defence's previous attempt to impeach Rafiq based on contradictions between his oral testimony and his prepared written statement had also been dismissed.
Azhar ruled that the witness could not be impeached based on the written statement, because it was never tendered in the court and therefore did not meet the criteria of a witness statement defined under the Criminal Procedural Code.
Although his witness statement had been given to the defence, it was not used in the court during Rafiq's testimony, nor was it submitted as evidence. He gave oral evidence instead.
If found guilty of the CBT charge, which is framed under Section 406 of the Penal Code, Syed Saddiq could be jailed for up to 10 years, whipped and fined.
As for the misappropriation charge, he could be jailed up to five years, whipped and fined if convicted.
In addition, he faces two charges of engaging in money-laundering activities involving two transactions of RM50,000 each — money believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities — via his Maybank Islamic account and his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account on June 16 and 19, 2018.
The latter two charges were framed under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which are punishable under Section 4(1) of the same Act, with a maximum jail term of 15 years, and a fine of not less than five times the amount involved.
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