Civil society group: Public prosecutor must explain Ahmad Maslan’s acquittal

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The public prosecutor must explain the case settlement and sudden acquittal of Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan of charges of corruption, a civil society group said.

Malaysian Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) said the public deserves to know why the Pontian MP was freed of charges after paying a RM1.1 million compound. He was charged with money laundering involving RM2 million and with making a false statement on the matter.

“It seems in Ahmad’s case, it looks like there was no penalty but simply a return of monies he admitted he received in connection for the first charge. Was there even no compound offer with regard to the lying charge?

“The public prosecutor or government must provide a clear explanation,” Madpet spokesman Charles Hector said in a statement today.

The group also asked the prosecution to do the same in subsequent cases when the prosecution decides on discontinuance of charges, especially in cases involving political personalities or their family members.

On Wednesday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court acquitted Ahmad of charges of failing to declare RM2 million to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and giving a false statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Hector said that by paying the compound, Ahmad has avoided conviction and by extension, from being disqualified as an MP. He has also avoided barred and running for office should he have been convicted of those charge.

Hector said mid-trial acquittals should be abolished save for exceptional cases.

Acquittals should only be considered at the end of a trial, after the judge has evaluated all evidence, he said.

“Current law retains the discretion for judges to order an acquittal, but it really ought to be used in the most exceptional cases.

“Madpet takes the position that when there is a mid-trial discontinuance, the accused must only be discharged, and not acquitted. Acquittal should only be available at the end of trial after the judge has evaluated all evidence and determined that a person is not guilty.”

Ahmad cannot be charged again with the same offence or on the same facts for any other offence.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Hector added that the compound penalty for serious crimes like corruption and money laundering should be removed and that such charges be fully tried in court. – TMI