Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Guan Eng loses bid to transfer graft case to High Court

His corruption case involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired road project in Penang will remain in the Sessions Court.

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The hearing of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption case involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired road project in Penang will remain in the Sessions Court.

This followed a decision by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal headed by justice Nor Bee Ariffin today, unanimously dismissing Lim’s appeal to transfer his corruption trial from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

Judge Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali, when delivering the court’s decision, said Lim’s approach in using Section 417 of the Criminal Procedure Code, specifically for the trial to be held at the High Court as a platform to bring his appeal to the Federal Court, should not be allowed.

For cases starting in the Sessions Court, the appeal will end in the Court of Appeal, while cases starting in the High Court will end in the Federal Court.

Che Mohd Ruzima said there was no mistake made by the High Court judge in ruling that Lim had failed to meet the requirements under Section 417 (1) (b) and Section 417 (1) (e) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The two legal questions raised by Lim were not extraordinary legal questions, he added, nor had they never been decided by any court before.

As such, he said, Lim’s appeal was dismissed and the High Court’s decision upheld.

Also sitting on the panel was judge Hashim Hamzah.

Lim, the Bagan MP, had filed an appeal against High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin’s decision in dismissing his application to transfer his case from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

Lim is facing four charges involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads in Penang worth RM6.3 billion.

According to the first amended charge, Lim is accused of using his position as Penang chief minister to obtain a bribe of RM3.3 million as an inducement to assist Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd owner Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

Lim allegedly committed the offence at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.

In the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe of 10% of the profit from the company as gratification to secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, between 12.30am and 2am in March 2011.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, faces another two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.

The two offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Level 21, Komtar, on Feb 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.

A total of 11 prosecution witnesses have testified in the hearing of the case which started on July 13 this year.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Nov 29 before judge Azura Alwi.

A panel of lawyers headed by Gobind Singh Deo is representing Lim, while the prosecution is represented by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.

Gobind, when met by reporters, said he would obtain further instruction from his client on whether to appeal against today’s decision at the Federal Court.

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