Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) for the 47 charges against him in the Yayasan Akalbudi case.
The DNAA was given after the Attorney-General's Chambers decided to discontinue the case against him, Bernama reported today.
The prosecution applied for the DNAA earlier today, while Zahid's defence had argued for a full acquittal of the charges against him.
Zahid had faced 12 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight of corruption, and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
Among the CBT charges was that he allegedly settled his credit card debts using Yayasan Akalbudi through 44 cheques amounting to some RM1.3 million between January 2013 and December 2016.
The prosecution's application for a DNAA came weeks after deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who had had several tense exchanges with Zahid during the trial, ceased leading the prosecution team.
Raja Rozela had led the prosecution team from the start of the trial, and her sudden absence early last month led to speculation of government intervention amid Zahid's application for the charges to be dropped.
This prompted Attorney-General Idrus Harun to say that it was Raja Rozela herself who had applied for "early retirement", effective Nov 1.
At least two lawyers publicly demanded an explanation for her absence, saying the development had a bearing on public confidence in the manner in which the trial was conducted.
"This prosecution against a sitting deputy prime minister is a matter of high public interest. It must be seen to be carried out independently and transparently, without any interference," said Bersatu lawyer Sasha Lyna Abdul Latif.
Another lawyer meanwhile questioned the timing of replacing Raja Rozela.
"The trial at the prosecution level continued for 53 days from Nov 18, 2019 to March 19, 2021, during which time 99 witnesses were called.
"The yardstick of success for the prosecution team was, of course, when Zahid was called to defend himself, meaning that every element of the charges was successfully proven. Then why has the head of the prosecution team been replaced?" asked Rafique Rashid.
Raja Rozela has not publicly commented on her early retirement.
"I am a public servant... I am not allowed to comment. My apologies," she was reported by the New Straits Times as saying.