Saturday, September 25, 2021

Zahid’s VLN graft case postponed but trial must continue, says judge

High Court judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa says it is a case of public interest.

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The Shah Alam High Court has allowed an application by the defence in the corruption case involving Ahmad Zahid Hamidi related to the foreign visa system (VLN) to vacate today’s hearing.

Judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa allowed the hearing to be vacated after Zahid’s counsel, Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, showed the court a letter from a hospital stating his client’s condition and injuries.

“However, the hearing dates set on Sept 1 and 2 remain. It will also depend on Zahid’s condition. We can’t anticipate for now how long he will take to recover.

“However, this is a case of public interest and the trial should continue soon,” said the judge.

Earlier, Zaidi told the court that his client had been admitted to a private hospital after suffering a fall in his house on Sunday.

At today’s proceeding, the prosecution was represented by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.

Zahid was also a no-show at the hearing of his corruption case involving funds from Yayasan Akalbudi, with the court told that the Umno president had been hospitalised due to a back injury.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah ruled that a subpoena would be issued to Dr Mohd Shahir Anuar from Avisena Specialist Hospital in Shah Alam to explain Zahid’s procedure and the duration needed for the accused to fully recover.

Zahid, 68, is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant and home minister at the time to extend the contract of the company as the operator of the one-stop centre in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the home ministry.

He allegedly committed the offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and in Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

The charges framed under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same act, provide for a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times the value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

For another seven charges, Zahid was charged as home minister with accepting S$1,150,000, RM3,000,000, €15,000 (RM75,663) and US$15,000 (RM62,115) in cash from the same company which he knew had a connection with his function as home minister.

He was charged with committing the offences at a house in Country Heights between June 2015 and October 2017, under Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail term of two years, a fine or both upon conviction.

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