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Court accepts most of disputed witness statement in Zahid's graft trial

However, it allows the prosecution's objection to three paragraphs in the witness statement of Fadzlette Othman Merican Idris Merican.

2 minute read
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today. Photo: Bernama
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today. Photo: Bernama

The High Court today accepted a major portion of the witness statement by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s ex-press secretary in the former deputy prime minister's corruption trial involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah however said that the court allowed the prosecution's objection to three paragraphs, namely the last lines of paragraphs 17 and 22, and the whole of paragraph 18.

He said these would be removed from the witness statement of Major General (R) Fadzlette Othman Merican Idris Merican, who is the second defence witness.

"I find that the rest of the questions, (paragraphs) 16 until 30 (of the witness statement) relate to facts directly in the issue which form the core of the defence case and, therefore, are not collateral matters under Section 153 of the Evidence Act 1950.

"With regard to paragraphs 16 and 17, I agree with the defence that the matters contained constitute a narrative introduction as to how the defence witness (Fadzlette) came to know the 90th prosecution witness, Zahid’s former executive secretary, Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly," he said.

On Sept 19, the prosecution objected to parts of Fadzlette's witness statement on the grounds that they were irrelevant and inadmissible.  

Yesterday, the defence argued that Zahid would be deprived of a fair trial if the court accepted the prosecution’s argument and stopped a defence witness from testifying.

Sequerah said he found that Section 153 of the Evidence Act applied to very specific circumstances, where the evidence adduced went only as far as to injure the character of the witness (Major Mazlina) and was irrelevant to the facts and issue (of the case).

"In those circumstances, once a witness has answered the question, Section 153 of the Evidence Act will operate to prevent any adverse party from introducing contradictory evidence. 

"Applying this principle to the particular proposed witness statement of the second defence witness (Fadzlette), I find the part in paragraph 18, which the defence considers, falls under the prohibitory ambit of Section 153 of the Evidence Act," he said.

The judge also said in his decision that he would accept the four proposed witness statements in order to save the court's time. 

"Therefore, those witness statements will be admitted as they are but without prejudice to the prosecution's right to ask for the offending paragraphs or portions of the witness statements to be expunged at the end of the case by way of submission of the whole case," he said. 

The court then ordered for the witness statements to be amended accordingly. 
The hearing continues with Fadzlette reading her witness statement. 

Fadzlette was press secretary to Zahid when he was deputy prime minister. She is now the media director for the Umno president.

On Aug 30, Zahid completed giving evidence to defend himself after 17 days on the witness stand.

He faces 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.