“The reasons given by the learned DPP, including that of the setting up of the RCI [...] does not in any manner suggest that as far as the charges involved in this case [is concerned], that this is the end of the matter.” — High Court Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah
KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 4): The prosecution on Monday decided to withdraw all 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, graft, and money laundering faced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, after applying to discharge all the charges.
The High Court judge in the Yayasan Akalbudi trial, Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, upheld the prosecution’s application for a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) for Zahid, as opposed to the defence’s request for a full acquittal.
A DNAA means an accused person can face trial for the same charges in the future, if the prosecution decides to reinstate them.
The decision ended a trial which had spanned three years and ten months involving 99 witnesses, and which had established a prima facie case with Zahid having entered his defence.
At the start of the trial on Monday, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar told the judge that he had instructions from Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun to discontinue the charges against Zahid.
Mohd Dusuki told the judge that the case should be classified as DNAA as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is still investigating the charges, after Zahid had sent letters of representation to both the AG and the MACC earlier this year.
However, Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had asked the judge to consider a full acquittal instead, as the prosecution did not give a timeline to complete its investigations.
Sequerah asked the court to stand down while he deliberated on the matter and came back a few moments later to quash the defence's application and uphold the DNAA sought by the prosecution.
In reading out his decision, Sequerah said the prosecution had intimated that while it has sought a DNAA, investigations against Zahid are still ongoing.
“It is clear from the reasons given by prosecution that investigations are still ongoing as a result of representations made by the defence. However, it must be borne in mind that it was intimated to the court on a previous occasion, when an adjournment was sought for by the defence, that these representations took up several pages, I think it ran into hundreds of pages, if memory serves me correctly,” the judge said.
“It is therefore justified that the prosecution needs more time to examine these representations, which also involves taking statements from various individuals,” Sequerah added.
Sequerah also said the prosecution had asked for the DNAA based on a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on former AG Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ controversial memoir. According to the prosecution, there is a need to investigate Thomas’ memoir, which is relevant to Zahid’s charges.
The judge said that just because the DNAA is granted, this does not mean that it is the end of the matter.
“The reasons given by the learned DPP, including that of the setting up of the RCI although they do not have a timeline, does not in any manner suggest that as far as the charges involved in this case [is concerned], that this is the end of the matter,” he said.
Sequerah further said the trial commenced on Nov 18, 2019 and to date, some 77 days of trial has elapsed. He also added the case was at the defence stage with Zahid’s 15th witness giving evidence.
“The prosecution have in my considered view, given considered reasons why they seek a DNAA in this case,” Sequerah said before granting the DNAA.
Zahid, who is Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament, was ordered by Sequerah to enter his defence in respect of all 47 corruption charges in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi last year.
Twelve of them are criminal breach of trust charges, followed by eight for graft, and 27 for money laundering.
In October last year, Zahid was acquitted of a separate set of 40 graft charges in relation with an award of a contract for a foreign visa system (VLN) and one-stop services (OSC) in China when he was home minister.
At the time, the High Court judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa found that the prosecution had not made out a prima facie case as it had failed to prove the element of graft.
Zahid has since sent letters of representation to the Attorney General’s Chambers with regard to the prosecution’s appeal over the VLN case.
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