In Zahid’s trial, lawyer suggests political motivation behind 47 charges against Umno president after Pakatan became govt

KUALA LUMPUR : The 47 criminal charges against Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were purportedly due to political reasons as he was charged after the Pakatan Harapan coalition took over as federal government, his lawyer suggested at the High Court today (March 19).

Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik suggested this while cross-examining Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigator Khairudin Kilau.

Khairudin was testifying as the 99th and final prosecution witness in Zahid’s trial, where the former deputy prime minister is facing 47 charges involving alleged criminal breach of trust of Zahid-linked charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, alleged receiving of bribes and alleged money-laundering.

Hisyam suggested that all the 47 charges against Zahid had no basis in fact or in law, but Khairudin disagreed.

Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex March 19, 2021. ― Photo by Hari Anggara
Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex March 19, 2021. ― Photo by Hari Anggara

The MACC investigator also further disagreed when Hisyam sought to suggest that the criminal charges against Zahid were due to a change in government in Malaysia.

Hisyam: Agree or not when I say all 47 charges were initiated when there was a regime change?

Khairudin: Disagree.

Hisyam: Agree or not that all these charges were presented when Pakatan Harapan formed government.

Khairudin: Disagree.

Hisyam then sought to suggest that the charges against Zahid were politically-motivated, but this was met with objection from deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi who said the question was “scandalous” as there was nothing political in the charges.

While agreeing there was nothing political in the charges, High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed the question by Zahid’s lawyer on the alleged politically-motivated charges, as the defence is allowed to put forward their defence while quizzing prosecution witnesses.

Hisyam then again asked if all 47 charges against Zahid were due to political reasons, but Khairudin disagreed.

Khairudin also disagreed that Zahid was charged with the 47 charges because of his position as the Umno president.

Having worked with the MACC for around 20 years as an investigator since December 1999 after joining the organisation then known as the Anti-Corruption Agency, Khairudin agreed that this was the “first time” he had known of 47 charges being brought against a politician after a regime change.

Hisyam had asked: “In the 20 years, did you see or read from anywhere of a politician, after the government was changed, having been charged with 47 charges”, with Khairudin replying: “In my knowledge, no.”

The Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition lost in the 14th general elections on May 9, 2018, with Pakatan Harapan then forming government until late February 2020 when the Perikatan Nasional then taking over as government.

Zahid was charged on October 19, 2018 with 45 charges of the 47 charges, while the remaining two of the criminal breach of trust charges were brought against him later — one charge each on December 14, 2018, and February 20, 2019.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran today then asked Khairudin what was the basis of the charges recommended by him as an MACC investigator to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Zahid’s case.

“My Lord, the recommendations of investigating officers in recommending for a case to be prosecuted is based on evidence through witnesses’ testimonies and documentary evidence, it’s not based on politics or other matters,” Khairudin told the High Court.

Khairudin agreed with Raja Rozela that his investigation under the MACC was not politically-motivated, also saying that the MACC investigation against Zahid was not done with the motive to damage the politician’s reputation.

Yesterday, Khairudin said MACC’s preliminary investigations on Zahid’s case started in 2016, and that he was formally appointed as an investigating officer for this case in June 2018.

Khairudin today also told Hisyam that he had completed his part of the investigations involving Zahid’s case in October 2018 before the charges were brought against the latter.

Zahid was Malaysia’s deputy prime minister from July 2015 to May 2018, and was also home minister from May 2013 to May 2018. He has been Umno president since winning the party elections in June 2018.

In this trial, Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said the prosecution reserves the right to call any of the 37 witnesses offered if required.

The prosecution today closed its case, after 53 days of court proceedings since the trial started on November 18, 2019.

Following the close of the prosecution’s case today, the High Court fixed May 28 for both the prosecution and the defence to file in their written submissions, and June 11 for both sides to file in replies to the written submissions.

The High Court also fixed five days for oral submissions on June 28, 29, 30 and July 1 and 2 for lawyers from both sides to present their final arguments, before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah decides on whether the prosecution had made out its prima facie case.

A decision at the end of the prosecution case would be on whether there is a sufficient case for Zahid to be called to enter his defence or whether he would be freed of the charges.

In this trial, Zahid ― who is a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

The High Court then fixed June 28, 29, 30 and July 1 and 2 for both the prosecution and Zahid’s lawyers to present their submissions before a decision is made by the court on whether Zahid would have to enter his defence or can be released from the charges.

By : IDA LIM – MALAY MAIL

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