Court dismisses Zahid’s application to delay corruption trial pending appeal


KUALA LUMPUR (July 4): The High Court here has dismissed former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s application to stay the hearing of his corruption trial pending the outcome of an appeal to procure witness statements from the prosecution.

Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah denied Zahid’s contention that his defence against the 47 charges will be prejudiced if he does not get the witness statements before his cross-examination.

“The court is of the view that the accused will not be prejudiced because he can interview these witnesses. He is not being denied a fair trial,” Justice Sequerah said in his decision after hearing submissions in the morning from Zahid’s lawyers and the prosecution.

“I don’t see anything that would not warrant a fair trial. I find the applicant (Zahid) failed to meet the threshold,” he added.

He noted that Zahid can interview the witnesses himself without any hindrance, as they include the Umno president’s family members.

The stay Zahid has applied for is pending the outcome of his appeal at the Court of Appeal to obtain witness statements recorded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). The High Court had previously in May dismissed Zahid’s bid to obtain these witness statements.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran said the application was made by Zahid’s lawyers at the “eleventh hour” and called it an attempt to delay proceedings.

“This is an attempt to stall proceedings and delay the trial.  Any attempt to impede the progress of the trial must be rejected. I said earlier that the court does not have statutory power to grant stay, it does have discretionary power to grant stay whether pending appeal,” she said during submissions.

She also highlighted that the trial has gone on for the past three years and that the application should be denied to see an end to the trial.

“This case has taken three years. Please take that factor and consider that this a serious offence we are dealing with, and if we were to allow for a stay of proceedings, when will it ever end, my Lord,” she told Justice Sequerah.

Zahid’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had rebuffed Raja Rozela’s claims that they were trying to delay the trial.

“There was a three-year delay, yes, but there was a lockdown and covid and courts were closed. We were not responsible for the delay,” he said.

Zahid is charged with criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving millions of ringgit from charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister. Twelve of the charges are for CBT, eight for corruption and the remaining 27 for money laundering.

After Justice Sequerah’s decision, the trial was adjourned for the day as the defence had informed the judge that some lawyers were unwell and had symptoms of diarrhoea and sore throat.

The trial will continue on Tuesday (July 5).

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