Zahid’s trial: Defence says evidence from hostile witness should stand

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The evidence of a hostile prosecution witness in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial should be accepted although the prosecution wants it rejected, the defence said today.

Previously, the High Court allowed businessman Junaith Asharab Md Shariff to be treated as hostile by the prosecution because of discrepancies between his written statement and testimony.

Defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik today said that there were two views with which to treat the evidence of Junaith, the 36th prosecution witness, after he had been declared as hostile.

The first view was that Junaith’s whole evidence is to be rejected, but Teh said the preferred view instead was to take a part of Junaith’s evidence.

For example, Junaith’s evidence with regards to the RM13 million meant for charity ought to be accepted, he added.

For the 12th and 13th charges, Zahid was alleged to have corruptly received from Junaith the gratification of 13 cheques worth RM8 million from Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services and 10 cheques worth RM5 million from Berani & Jujur Trading.

The transaction between December 7, 2016, to February 8, 2017, was alleged to be an inducement for the former home minister to assist Mastoro Kenny in obtaining the government’s MyEG project, which was under the purview of the Home Ministry.

Junaith had said in his written statement that Zahid had promised to give him MyEG projects worth about RM50 million after the 14th general election (GE14) and asked him to submit his proposals.

However, when being cross-examined, Junaith said he did not directly speak to Zahid and was only told about them by Zahid’s younger brother Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi. Junaith also explained that Nasaee was his close friend.

Later, Junaith claimed that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) coerced him to sign the witness statement.

“Irrespective (of) whether Junaith is treated as hostile or otherwise, his evidence has compromised the prosecution’s case in Charge 12 and 13.

“When a material witness for the prosecution demonstrably gives conflicting answers on material parts of his evidence, his credibility is compromised.

“The benefit of doubt must tilt in favour of the defence,” Teh told Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The defence further used the evidence of 87th prosecution witness, Muralidharan Balan Pillai, that RM5 million from the 10 Berani & Jujur Trading’s cheques were paid to the contractor, Noble Energy, for mosque construction.

Muralidharan is a partner of law firm Lewis & Co, which is alleged to be a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi.

Teh said Junaith’s evidence can be corroborated with Muralidharan’s evidence that the payment was made to the contractor.

He argued that there can be no doubt that the donation was for the construction of a mosque and a tahfiz school at Bagan Datuk.

Zahid, 68, is currently facing 47 charges, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges involving tens of millions of ringgit of funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

Today is the seventh day of oral submissions by Zahid’s lawyers to present their final arguments before the court decides whether the Umno president should enter his defence.

So far, the defence ended its submission to defend Zahid’s CBT and money laundering charges and is now defending his corruption charges.

The proceedings continue next week from Monday to Thursday. – TMI