Former minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has won his appeal to disqualify High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali from hearing his on-going RM1 million corruption case.
A three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Yaacob Md Sam said the appeal had merit and warranted the appellate court’s intervention.
The bench ordered the case to be heard before another judge.
“It is for the new judge to decide whether to start the case afresh (by recalling prosecution witnesses or continue from where Nazlan left off,” he said.
Yaacob set Feb 18 for mention of the case before Nazlan for him to deal accordingly with today’s verdict. It is also the day the trial was scheduled to resume.
Deputy public prosecutor Julia Ibrahim said she would obtain instructions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers on whether to file an appeal.
So far two prosecution witnesses have testified before Nazlan.
On Sept 20, Nazlan dismissed Tengku Adnan’s attempt to recuse him (Nazlan) because the former minister had failed to show that he (Nazlan) would be biased.
Nazlan had three days earlier (Sept 17) convicted and sentenced businessman Tan Eng Boon, who pleaded guilty to abetting Tengku Adnan, better known as Ku Nan.
But Nazlan had said even if this case went before another judge, Eng Boon would give evidence and be subject to cross-examination.
“There is no real danger of bias,” he said. “The application has no merit and is dismissed.”
Today, Tengku Adnan’s counsel Tan Hock Chuan submitted that Nazlan ought to have recused himself because he had read and considered the facts of the case of Eng Boon.
He said both Tengku Adnan and Eng Boon’s cases had earlier been set for a joint trial.
“The High Court judge has some knowledge about the case and certainly the facts are prejudicial to my client and therefore he should not hear the case,” said Hock Chuan.
Julia, however, urged the bench to maintain the findings of Nazlan as there was no real danger of bias on the part of the judge.
She said the prosecution would prove the charges faced by Ku Nan and the facts of the case as admitted by Eng Boon would not be automatically accepted as evidence.
“We will have to prove the ingredients of the charges by calling witnesses and producing documents,” she added.
Nazlan fined Eng Boon RM1.5 million for abetting in a RM1 million bribe to Ku Nan over land deals involving Kuala Lumpur City Hall.
Eng Boon had pleaded guilty to an amended charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries a two-year jail term, a fine or both upon conviction.
Eng Boon, the director of a property and development company, was accused of giving Ku Nan RM1 million in bribes through a Public Bank cheque belonging to Pekan Nenas Industries Sdn Bhd.
The cheque was deposited into a CIMB Bank account owned by Ku Nan.
The Putrajaya MP, meanwhile, was charged with receiving the RM1 million payment from Eng Boon to approve an application by Nucleus Properties Sdn Bhd (now known as Paragon City Development Sdn Bhd) to increase the industrial plot ratio of a piece of land on Jalan Semarak.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Putra World Trade Centre CIMB bank branch on Dec 27, 2013. – FMT