Monday, June 14, 2021

Apex court dismisses Zahid’s bid to consolidate 12 CBT charges into 3

A three-man bench rules that there is no contravention of Section 153 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

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The Federal Court today dismissed former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s appeal to consolidate his 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges into three in his trial involving funds belonging to Yayasan Alkalbudi.

A three-member bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed, in ruling that there was no contravention of Section 153 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, said the section was not a mandatory provision.

“We therefore agree on this issue with the Court of Appeal that it is not mandatory for all 12 charges of CBT to be amalgamated or consolidated into only three,” he said in dismissing Zahid’s appeal.

Section 153 (2) states that when an accused is charged with CBT, it is sufficient to specify the gross sum in respect of which the offence is alleged to have been committed and the dates between which the offence is alleged to have committed, without specifying particular items or exact dates, and that the charge may be deemed to be a charge of one offence.

Azahar said it was also not sufficient for Zahid to say that he was prevented from getting a fair trial without showing in what way he was so deprived.

“On the complaint that the charges preferred against him (Zahid) would create an adverse perception, we find no merit. The court will decide on all these charges based on admissable evidence in court,” he added.

Adverse perception was not a factor to be taken into consideration by the court, he said, adding that adverse publicity would not affect Zahid’s right to a fair trial.

He said it was submitted by Zahid’s counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik that in the event of a conviction in all 12 charges, Zahid would be punished separately for the 12 charges as compared to only three.

“In our judgment at this stage, it is not relevant for us to consider the question of sentencing,” said Azahar.

He said sentencing is generally a matter of judicial discretion for the trial court to consider based on established principle of sentencing after taking into account all relevant factors, including mitigating factors advanced by the accused, and for the court to take into account the circumstances of the case.

Azahar, who presided with Federal Court judges Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, in unanimously dismissing Zahid’s appeal, found that there was no merit to the appeal.

Zahid lost his bid in the High Court to consolidate his 12 CBT charges while the Court of Appeal had also dismissed his appeal, prompting him to file the appeal in the Federal Court.

He had pleaded not guilty to a total of 47 charges, 12 of which were for CBT, eight for bribery and 27 for money laundering, involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

On March 19, the prosecution concluded its case in the trial after calling 99 witnesses to testify.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah ordered the prosecution and defence to file their written submissions on May 28 and fixed June 28 to 30 and July 1 and 2 for the hearing of oral submissions.

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