The defence in Lim Guan Eng’s ongoing corruption trial on the proposed Penang undersea tunnel today challenged the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness.
Gobind Singh Deo, representing Lim, told Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi this morning when the trial resumed that the defence intends to impeach Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Zulkifli who is the prosecution’s 23rd witness, for the latter’s testimony yesterday alleging payments to the accused.
Gobind claimed Zarul Ahmad had made contradictory testimonies in a separate court case involving businessman G Gnanaraja in Shah Alam, Selangor.
“This is an application in order for the defence to be supplied with the witness statement of Zarul Ahmad for the purpose of commencing proceedings to challenge his credibility,” the defence lawyer said.
According to the defence, the disputed testimony involved Zarul Ahmad telling the court in the present trial he had paid out RM2 million each to Lim by cheque and then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in cash in 2017; while Zarul Ahmad had told investigators in the Shah Alam case that he only made one payment in cheque to Gnanaraja for Najib.
Testifying before Justice Azura yesterday, Zarul Ahmad said he had “rectified” his statement over the cash and cheque.
As such, Gobind said the defence had filed an application to obtain Zarul Ahmad’s testimony in that court case so as to initiate impeachment proceedings here.
Gobind said the application was made under Section 145 and Section 155 of the Evidence Act.
Section 155 provides that the credit of a witness may be impeached by an adverse party by proof of former statements inconsistent with any part of their evidence which is liable to be contradicted.
Gobind also challenged the prosecution to produce those statements as indicated that they should not resist if their key witness had told the truth.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin urged the judge to reject the defence’s application and likened it to a “fishing expedition”.
“What are they doing now, they wish to invite all of us, including the court, to a fishing expedition.
“At this stage, it is premature for them to request since there is no basis,” he said.
Wan Shaharuddin said the court needs to consider all the evidence together, including other testimonies, before deciding on Zarul Ahmad’s credibility.
Azura said she will announce her decision on November 2.
Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as the then Penang chief minister to accept a bribe of RM3.3 million to help a company owned by Zarul Ahmad obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702 billion.
On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe from Zarul Ahmad, namely 10 per cent of CZCSB’s profits, as an inducement to obtain the project.
Lim is also facing two charges of disposing of two plots of land worth RM208.8 million owned by the Penang government to companies allegedly linked to the planned undersea tunnel project. – MMO