The prosecution team in former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial has been accused of suppressing vital evidence that could clear him.
Defence counsel Gobind Singh hit out at the prosecution for failing to deliver copies of WhatsApp conversations between two businessmen who were alleged to have paid Lim RM2 million in 2017.
The two businessmen are G Gnanaraja and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.
Gobind said the evidence was important to prove the corruption claims made against Lim were baseless.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin objected to Gobind’s application under Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to obtain the forensic report of the WhatsApp exchanges.
Section 51A of the CPC requires the prosecution to reveal information and disclose documents or reports that would form part of the prosecution’s case to the defence before or during the course of a trial.
“It is trite-law that the prosecution must make available to the defence full access to documents favourable to the defence, what more when the evidence exonerates the accused as innocent,” Gobind said before sessions judge Azura Alwi.
Gnanaraja, who is well known as Datuk Seri G or DSG, was previously charged with cheating Zarul.
The businessman claimed trial to three counts of cheating Zarul in relation to the Penang Undersea Tunnel project over which Lim is accused of corruption.
Gnanaraja’s case, however, has been classified as “no further action” and he is now a prosecution witness in Lim’s trial.
The prosecution team that charged Gnanaraja at the Shah Alam High Court in the cheating case is now also part of the prosecution team in the case against Lim.
Gobind said the prosecution team was concealing evidence that they should have given him before Lim’s trial commenced.
“This is contempt of the highest nature. The prosecution is lying when claiming that they do not know about the Shah Alam trial (involving Gnanaraja).
“The same cheque was produced; the same witness was called and now the prosecution is denying knowing about the case when one of the DPPs in Gnanaraja’s case is now a DPP in Lim’s case.
“In other words, both cases are similar to the present case in terms of facts except that the original accused Gnanaraja is now replaced by Lim Guan Eng,” said Gobind.
Gobind said the RM2 million that was allegedly given to Lim was meant for the then prime minister Najib Razak.
“The prosecution witness had said in the Shah Alam court that the purpose of passing the monies through Gnanaraja was to strengthen the relationship with the then PM and help with several projects,” he said.
Gobind said the case against Lim was a clear-cut politically motivated charge as the Bagan MP had never received any money from Zarul as claimed by the prosecution.
Meanwhile, DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib said the prosecution objected to the defence’s application because the matter was irrelevant.
He said Gobind and his team could cross-examine the witnesses during the trial, thus the transcript of the full conversation between the businessmen was not necessary.
He also called Gobind to stop attacking DPPs as they are officers of the court.
“We are the officers of the court. My learned friend can cross-examine the witnesses and we will definitely call them to be questioned.”
Justice Azura said she would deliver a decision on Gobind’s application on April 5.
Lim, 62, is facing an amended charge of using his position as chief minister to accept a bribe of RM3.3 million to help a company owned by Zarul to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702 at the Office of the Chief Minister of Penang, 28th Floor, Komtar, George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.
On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe from Zarul of 10% of the company’s profits, as an inducement for obtaining the project and is accused of committing the act near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur in March 2011.
Lim also faces two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million owned by the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies allegedly linked to the undersea tunnel project. – TMI