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Zahid fails to stay defence proceedings in graft case

The Kuala Lumpur High Court says he is not being denied a fair trial.

3 minute read
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today. Photo: Bernama
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today. Photo: Bernama

The Kuala Lumpur High Court today rejected Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s request to stay the prosecution’s cross-examination of him pending the outcome of an appeal, ruling that the accused would not be prejudiced during the cross-examination.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah in his decision said there were no special circumstances to warrant Zahid’s application for a stay.

“The accused (Zahid) has the liberty to interview the witnesses any time, some of whom are family members, and the prosecution is also committed to assisting him. He is not being denied a fair trial,” the judge said.

The former deputy prime minister had filed the application to stay his defence proceedings pending a decision by the Court of Appeal on his appeal to obtain copies of the recorded statements of defence witnesses in his corruption case involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The cross-examination of Zahid began last Thursday after several days of him taking the stand to defend himself in the case.

In dismissing the stay application, Sequerah said the court was bound by the precedent case involving Najib Razak where the Federal Court denied him access to the witness statements he was seeking.

“Following the determinative principle in Najib Razak’s case in the Federal Court which, of course, binds this court, I find that the applicant (Zahid) has failed to meet the required threshold.

“The application is dismissed and the trial process and cross-examination of the accused will continue,” he said.

Sequerah then adjourned the trial until tomorrow after Zahid’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik informed him that some of his client’s lawyers were unwell.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran submitted that continuing the proceedings in the High Court was not prejudicial to the applicant’s right to a fair trial nor would it cause injustice.

She argued that the applicant was never hindered from preparing and proceeding with his defence as the witnesses listed in his affidavit were either known to him or related to him by blood.

“It is more advantageous to the applicant that his case proceeds in the High Court as he will have an earlier opportunity to vindicate himself,” she said.

Raja Rozela added that Zahid was facing very serious charges and that the trial involving a former deputy prime minister was being closely watched by the public.

“This trial has taken three years and the application is an obvious attempt to delay an early completion of the trial.

“This trial is also of public and national importance and any attempt to impede the progress of the proceedings must be rejected,” she added.

Hisyam countered that the application was not to delay the trial but to ensure that his client got a fair trial.

“This case is of public interest and Zahid must give full and complete evidence during the main examination before being cross-examined,” he said.

In response to the prosecution’s contention that the trial had taken three years, Hisyam said the defence could not be blamed for the shutdown imposed due to the movement control order during the Covid-19 outbreak.

On Jan 24, the court ordered Zahid to enter his defence for 12 charges of criminal breach of trust, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to the charity foundation after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against him.