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Zahid has no right to claim immunity from prosecution, court hears

Lead prosecutor says Section 30(7) of the MACC Act referred to by the defence deals with exemption from prosecution, not immunity.

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Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today. Photo: Bernama
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today. Photo: Bernama

The High Court was told today that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is not immune from prosecution simply for disclosing information on transactions relating to his family-run Yayasan Akalbudi charity foundation.

Lead prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran also said the accused’s claim to immunity could not be heard by the court as it has no jurisdiction to strike out charges on grounds of immunity.

She submitted that the defence had relied on Section 30(7) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 to claim immunity.

However, she said the section did not provide for immunity but rather an exemption from being prosecuted at the discretion of the public prosecutor to certain persons who assist in the investigation.

“The public prosecutor has taken the position that the accused is not entitled to immunity. In fact, he does not even have the right to claim immunity under Section 30(7).

“Section 30(7), when read in the context of the whole legislation, is enacted with the objective to encourage witnesses to cooperate in disclosing information and documents to assist the MACC in its investigation.

“This provision is applicable only to persons who disclose information or documents where such information or documents might otherwise expose that person to criminal or civil action or claim,” she said in a submission to rebut the defence’s argument on immunity before justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah

Previously, lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who represents Zahid, submitted to the court that Zahid had made two statements on July 2 and 3, 2018. He said by making disclosures through the two statements, the Umno president should have immunity from prosecution under Section 30(7).

Raja Rozela argued that the defence was under a mistaken belief that the prosecution’s case was tried on those two statements.

“On the contrary, the prosecution relied on the evidence of 99 witnesses, and the majority were civilians who have had their statements recorded by MACC. Neither the public prosecutor nor the MACC did anything to encourage the accused to believe that he will be given immunity.

“Section 30(7) does not contain the word immunity. If Parliament had intended for Section 30(7) to provide for immunity, it would have explicitly said so,” she said.

The prosecutor further submitted that MACC has the power under Section 30(7) to call anyone who can assist in investigations to provide information including those who have yet to be charged in court as part of the investigation process.

“If MACC records statements from witnesses and everyone is protected, everyone is untouchable, what is the purpose of the investigation then? Where does that leave MACC? It would be absurd to say that Zahid should not be prosecuted simply because he had provided information to MACC,” she said.

Zahid, 68, is facing 47 charges – 12 of criminal breach of trust, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

The prosecution will continue its submissions on Oct 4.