High Court postpones Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi trial

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The High Court today agreed to a request by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamid to postpone his Yayasan Akalbudi corruption trial involving funds over RM31 million to August.

Raja Faisal Hishan/The Star

The postponement is due to Zahid’s lawyers having sent in a second representation letter to the attorney-general, with the prosecution needing more time to look through the documents and to also wait for the outcome of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) plans to further investigate Zahid’s case.

The trial was supposed to resume this morning when Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh informed Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah that the defence team had sent a second representation letter addressed directly to the attorney-general in February.

According to the lawyer, this 200-page long letter contained “new facts and new evidence” related to the charges against Zahid.

Deputy public prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob confirmed that Zahid’s lawyers had written two representation letters, with the first letter received in January and the second letter with “another set of documents” sent in late February.

The DPP said the prosecution had previously written to the High Court regarding the representation letters and that he had instructions from Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun “to not object” to Zahid’s request to have the trial postponed.

“In our letter, we informed the court that the representation filed by the defence is voluminous.

“So, the total of these documents, they number more than 200 pages, as I said in my letter. And when we perused through these documents, it transpired that there are complex issues that were raised by our learned friends,” he said.

Malik confirmed the instructions given to the prosecution was to not object to Zahid’s request for postponement of the trial, as the prosecution needs time to consider the representation letter.

“After consulting with the public prosecutor, I was instructed to not object to this application today,” he said.

Asked how long the prosecution would need to come to a decision on the issues raised and the 200 pages of documents, Malik said the prosecution would want to take into account the outcome of MACC’s further investigation into the case.

Malik said MACC chief Tan Sri Azam Baki had told the AG directly in a letter dated February 20 that the commission is “conducting further investigations” on Zahid’s case.

He added that this MACC letter was attached to Zahid’s lawyers’ second representation letter.

Malik was asked if the MACC indicated how long it would take to investigate Zahid’s case.

“Not yet, we have enquired but so far, we have not received any response yet as to what investigations they are conducting further, or the time they are taking, but we believe we need the results of this further investigation for us to make a decision on this representation.

“I believe for completeness, any decision we make should also take into account the new investigations that they are conducting, Yang Arif,” he said.

He added that he had no information if the MACC has already started further investigation on Zahid’s case.

The judge then allowed the postponement on the dates requested after considering the reasons given.

The new hearing dates for the trial are: August 1–3, August 7–10, August 21–24, September 4–8, October 30–31, November 13–17, November 20–24, and December 11–15.

Zahid, who is also Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, is facing 47 charges.

The 47 charges are namely, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to over RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges over RM21.25 million in alleged bribes.

Yayasan Akalbudi was founded with the purported objectives of receiving and administering funds for the eradication of poverty and enhancing the welfare of the poor.

On January 24, 2022, the High Court had ordered Zahid to enter his defence on all 47 charges, after having previously heard evidence from 99 prosecution witnesses.

Zahid had begun his defence on April 13, 2022, by testifying as the first defence witness, with six defence witnesses including him having made it to the witness stand. – MMO