The Ipoh High Court today said that the two main witnesses in the Paul Yong rape trial, including the victim and the person who helped the victim to lodge her police report, are to be protected under the Witness Protection Act (WPA) 2009.
Judge Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed, who made the decision, said that the identity of the two witnesses must be protected.
“After the inquiry, I am of the view that the two witnesses’ identities must be protected,” he said during the proceeding today, which was held via Zoom.
Abdul Wahab also said the two witnesses will testify in closed court and that only he will be able to see them.
“They will testify in court, but only I will see them. The prosecution team, the defendant’s lawyers and others in the court will not be able to see two witnesses.
“They will only hear the witnesses’ voices,” he said.
He also said that any form of materials that would reveal their identities, including their names, photographs or address, are prohibited.
“The witnesses’ names can only be mentioned in the proceeding. They should not be disclosed to the public,” he stressed.
Abdul Wahab ordered the next trial date to be maintained from July 12 to 16.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Fitri Sadarudin prosecuted while Paul Yong was represented by counsel Datul Rajpal Singh and Salim Bashir.
On May 28, Abdul Wahab said he would personally interview the alleged victim and another witness before making the decision on whether the two witnesses should be protected under the WPA.
Both the prosecution and defence agreed that the inquiry should be conducted.
On April 6, Perak state prosecution director Datuk Jamil Aripin said that the two were participants of the Witness Protection programme under the Act and stated their wish to give their statements in camera without being seen by the accused and his lawyers.
Yong’s lead counsel Rajpal said they agreed that the alleged victim could give evidence in camera without the presence of members of the public and the accused, but the counsel to be allowed to see the victim and cross-examine her from the witness box.
Mohd Fitri submitted that the issue of identity was not just about their names, but covered a wider aspect, including emotional disturbance and trauma.
Yong, 51, pleaded not guilty to a charge of raping his Indonesian domestic helper at his house in Meru Desa Park on July 7, 2019, between 8.15pm and 9.15pm.
The case had been mentioned in the Sessions Court but, on December 15 last year, the Federal Court allowed an application by the defence to transfer the case to the High Court.
Yong was first charged in the Sessions Court here on August 23, 2019, when he was the state Housing, Local Government, Public Transport, Non-Islamic Affairs and New Villages Committee chairman. – MMO