The judge, in allowing the amendments to be made, said they were subject to the defence’s rights under Section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code
After calling a total of 85 witnesses, the prosecution in Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahidi Hamidi’s trial over the misappropriation of millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi today amended some of the charges framed against the former Deputy Prime Minister.
Of the 47 charges, which included criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money-laundering, 14 counts were amended after High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed the prosecution’s application.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran told the court that the prosecution is seeking to make amendments to the charge sheets of all 12 CBT charges as well as two corruption charges.
She said this, however, would not affect the other charges against Zahid nor prejudice the accused.
When the amended version of the charges was read out to Zahid in court today, he pleaded not guilty to each of the 14 amended charges.
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.
“The proposed amendment (for the CBT charges) is to substitute the words ‘entrusted with property’ with ‘entrusted with dominion over property’.
“This is a minor amendment and it would not prejudice the accused,” she said, adding that the application made for the amendment was made in proper exercise of Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), which states the right to amend a charge at any point during the conduct of a prosecution.
Raja Rozela explained that the missing words of “dominion over property” were inadvertently omitted when the prosecution reframed the charges after Zahid’s case was brought over to the High Court, noting: “The missing words were not noticed until recently when we were preparing to wrap up our case.”
Raja Rozela said that the evidence in the trial so far had shown that Yayasan Akalbudi’s property was indirectly entrusted to Zahid as a member of the Yayasan Akalbudi’s board of trustee, and that such indirect entrustment enabled him to exercise dominion or control over Yayasan Akalbudi’s property.
Such an amendment, said Raja Rozela, was consistent with the documentary evidence and witnesses presented throughout the trial.
She said that the application to amend the charges were in line with the attorney-general’s powers under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution read together with Section 376(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code over the conduct of criminal trials.
As for the amendment on the corruption charges, the word “additional” in the phrase “acquisition of the additional supply of passport chips” was omitted.
Counsel Hisham Teh Poh Teik who represented Zahid said although the defence disagrees with the application for amendment, it recognises the prosecution’s right to do so.
Sequerah, in allowing the amendments to be made, said they were subject to the defence’s rights under Section 162 of the CPC.
According to the amended charges for CBT, Zahid, in his capacity as a Yayasan Akalbudi trustee who was entrusted with dominion over a property which was money totalling RM31 million, had committed CBT on the said property.
He was alleged to have committed the offences at the Affin Bank Berhad branch at Jalan Bunus off Jalan Masjid India, here, between Jan 13, 2014 and Dec 23, 2016.
He faces up to 20 years’ jail, whipping, and a fine, if convicted under Section 409 of the Penal Code.
Meanwhile, for the two amended corruption charges, Zahid had, in his capacity as then Home Minister, allegedly accepted bribes from Chew Ben Ben, who is the director of Data Sonic Group Bhd, as an inducement for the company to be appointed to carry out the acquisition of the supply of passport chips for a five-year period via direct negotiation with the Home Ministry.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Malayan Banking Bhd, Dataran Maybank branch, first floor, Tower A, Dataran Maybank at Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, here, on April 26, 2017.
The charges, framed under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act 2009, carry a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if convicted.
After the amended charges were read out to Zahid and he claimed trial to each of them, the High Court then said that the trial would resume tomorrow.
Today is the 32nd day of Zahid’s trial, with the 85th prosecution witness V Sothilechmy having completed her testimony this morning.
Nov 21, Zahid’s Trial: Day Four
Nov 21, Zahid’s Trial: Day Three
Nov 19, Zahid’s Trial: Day Two