Zahid’s trial: Defence says Zahid cannot be held liable for what his brother promised

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Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi never promised to award MYEG contract worth RM50 million to a textile businessman, the High Court heard today.

Zahid’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said the prosecution’s key witness Junaith Asharab Md Shariff had confirmed that RM13 million was given to the Yayasan Akalbudi, which is owned by Zahid, as a donation to build a tahfiz and mosque.

Therefore, he said, the allegation that the money was given as an inducement for the accused to secure projects for Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services was unfounded.

“According to him, it was Zahid’s younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi who promised to award the MYEG project to Junaith.

“Junaith said Zahid only asked him how much he can donate to build a Tahfiz school and mosque in Bagan Datuk during a meeting.

“There can be no doubt that the RM13 million comprising 23 cheques were in fact a donation for the construction of a mosque and Tahfiz school,” he told Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

MYEG projects were under the purview of the Home Ministry, which was under Zahid during that time.

Hisyam said the accused could not be liable for something that his brother did without his knowledge.

Meanwhile, the defence acknowledged that Junaith’s evidence was credible despite his contradicting statements during trial.

Hisyam said the court, however, should reject several paragraphs in Junaith’s witness statement where he gave conflicting answers on material parts of his evidence.

Junaith was declared a hostile witness by the prosecution team after contradicting his initial court testimony during the cross-examination.

The 48-year-old textile wholesaler was the prosecution’s 36th witness in the corruption and graft trial of the former deputy prime minister.

“Junaith, in his written statement, said the accused promised to give him MYEG projects worth about RM50 million after the 14th General Election as well as to submit his proposal (for the project).

“However, when cross-examined, Junaith maintained what he said in his written statement on these aspects were not true.

“There is a serious conflict of evidence. Therefore, he is no longer reliable on those three aspects.

He said Junaith’s evidence had compromised the prosecution’s case in charges 12 and 13.

Chan Tak Kong/The Star

Charges 12 and 13 stated that Zahid had received RM8 million and RM5 million through Junaith as an inducement for him to assist Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services to obtain MYEG Sdn Bhd project in 2016.

Hisyam said the witness’s credibility was compromised when he gave conflicting answers on material parts of his evidence.

“The benefit of doubt must tilt in favour of the defence,” he said.

However, Hisyam said the witness remains credible on two aspects when testified.

“He maintained that RM13 million of his donation to the construction of a mosque and Tahfiz school in Bagan Datuk as well as on the loan of RM250,000 to Zahid’s younger brother.

“This evidence can be accepted as this was his evidence in examination in chief and reiterated in cross-examination,” he said.

Hisyam said the court could reject Junaith’s whole evidence or accept part of it after testing the veracity of the witness.

“Whichever view your lordship takes, the prosecution’s case is compromised.

“If the court rejects Junaith’s evidence altogether, all the three charges where Zahid is accused of accepting a bribe from the former collapse.

“In the event your lordship takes the second view, which is preferred, the prosecution’s case is also cooked,” he added.

The Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament is standing trial on 47 charges of money laundering and Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) involving millions from Yayasan Akalbudi.

Twelve of the charges are for CBT, 27 for money laundering and eight for accepting graft.

The hearing continues on Sept 20.