Zahid’s lawyer claims he was overcharged and also unnecessarily charged

- Advertisement - [resads_adspot id="2"]

The defence also claimed that it was clear that the charges had been framed on thin ice.

Nazir Sufari/TMI

Umno President Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today argued that he had not only been unnecessarily prosecuted but was over prosecuted after being slapped with 47 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering.

His lawyers contended that the former deputy prime minister had nothing to answer for after 53 days of trial which had seen 99 prosecution witnesses being called to testify.

The defence also raised a point of law by stating that Zahid wanted to claim immunity from prosecution under Section 30(7) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act as he was the one who disclosed all information to the graft busters.

Lead defence counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik started his submission by pointing out that the charges against his client were instituted by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, as the latter had revealed in his book My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.

Quoting a passage from the book, the senior lawyer noted that Thomas had explained that he only charged Zahid after becoming satisfied of having a realistic chance of securing a conviction based on overwhelming evidence against the accused.

However, Hisyam argued that after having heard, seen, and read all the evidence led by the prosecution during trial, it was clear that the charges against Zahid had been framed on thin ice.

“It is our submission that despite the then Honourable AG’s (Tommy Thomas) confidence of securing a conviction, the reality is that the charges were framed on thin ice.

“The charge says that the accused committed CBT when the accused transferred a sum of RM17.9 million belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi to the client’s trust account of Lewis & Co.

“It is obviously wrong in law to say that there is CBT when Yayasan Akalbudi retains ownership of the said monies when the said monies reached the hands of Lewis & Co’s client account,” Hisyam said.

According to him, the 89th prosecution witness, investigating officer Fairul Rafiq Hamirudin, had conceded in cross-examination that there is no CBT.

In addition, Hisyam argued that Zahid should be granted immunity as the accused had made two statements to the MACC on July 2 and July 3, 2018 and therefore protected under sub-section 30(7) of the MACC Act.

“We submit that he is immune from prosecution for charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption, and money laundering charges in respect of all information he had disclosed to MACC three years ago,” Hisyam told judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The lawyer added that the case is no longer in the public interest when an accused person is unnecessarily or wrongly charged.

“It eats up judicial time. In fact, it is an abuse of process,” he said.

Section 30(7) was repealed in October 2018 but was still in force on July 2, 2018, and July 3, 2018, when Zahid spoke to and had his statements recorded by the MACC, Hisyam said.

Under Section 30(7), it generally stated that any person who discloses any information shall not be prosecuted due to the disclosing of such information, except for the offence under Section 27 of the MACC Act of making a false or misleading statement.

Today was the first day of submissions at the close of the prosecution’s case, where the prosecution and

Zahid’s lawyers would be presenting their final arguments over several days before the court decides whether there is a prima facie case.

If a prima facie case is proven, it means there would be a case for Zahid to answer and defend. If a prima facie case is not proven by the prosecution, it would mean that Zahid can be acquitted of the charges.

Hisyam said everything that Zahid told the MACC as recorded in the two statements to the MACC is “information” that falls under the immunity-granting Section 30(7), including information that he became the sole signatory of charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi’s bank account and information that this foundation had obtained millions of ringgit of “donations” from friends from the corporate world, companies, businessmen and various individuals.

As for why Zahid should be immune from being charged with seven of the eight corruption charges under the MACC Act, Hisyam said this was based on Zahid’s statement to the MACC that he received “contributions and donations” from both individual and corporate donors, and as prosecution witnesses had testified to the court that the money given to Yayasan Akalbudi was for “charitable donations”.

Hisyam conceded, however, that Zahid does not have immunity from prosecution for one single charge relating to corruption, as the witness said a RM1 million sum was a “political donation” to the deputy prime minister (Zahid’s then role), while Zahid had not mentioned receiving “political donation” in his July 2018 statement to the MACC.

Apart from this charge, Hisyam applied to the court for a “permanent stay” on the 46 other charges which he said Zahid has immunity from being prosecuted.

Zahid, 68, is facing 47 charges, including 12 for CBT, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

For the 12 CBT charges, Zahid was alleged to have used the funds to make payments for personal credit cards, insurance policies, and licence for his personal vehicles, remittances to a law firm, and contributions to the Royal Malaysian police football association.

The charge, under Section 409 of the Penal Code, carries a maximum 20 years’ jail, whipping, and fine.