Court orders Rosmah’s lawyer not to question witness on personal matters

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

The High Court here today ordered the defence in Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s (picture) corruption trial not to question a prosecution witness in detail over her personal matters.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan made this ruling after Rosmah’s lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader had posed a few questions to former Education Secretary-General, Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad, 63.

Akberdin had asked Madinah, the prosecution’s sixth witness, about her closeness with the former prime minister’s wife and a conversation she had had with Rosmah during an official trip to Los Angeles a few years ago.

“I received instructions from my client to ask this question of Tan Sri,” Akberdin said.

When asked by Justice Mohamed Zaini about the relevance of the questions posed to Madinah, the lawyer replied that he would explain shortly.

Akberdin then continued to ask Madinah, who retired on Sept 2, 2016, about the details of her conversation with Rosmah, saying that he had no intention to humiliate her but he had to ask the witness the questions based on his client’s instructions.

At this juncture, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram interrupted, stating that Akberdin was insulting Madinah, while deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib also raised his objections on the matter.

Quoting from the Evidence Act, Ahmad Akram asked the judge to forbid any question that was intended to insult the witness, and which was not relevant to the charges against Rosmah.

However, Akberdin defended his line of questioning on the grounds that he just wanted to show that Madinah and Rosmah were close.

Justice Mohamed Zaini then instructed Akberdin to rephrase his question to Madinah, reminding him not to get into the details.

The judge also ordered that the court record of Akberdin’s earlier questioning on the witness’ personal matter be expunged, and instructed the media not to report on it.

Akberdin then rephrased his question to Madinah by asking whether she had discussed her personal problems with Rosmah, to which the witness replied “Yes”.

Rosmah, 68, has claimed trial to a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a bribe of RM6.5 million from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin, through her former aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor, in exchange for helping Jepak Holdings obtain a RM1.25 billion project to provide solar energy to 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

She allegedly committed the offences at three places, namely Lygon Cafe at Sunway Putra Mall in Jalan Putra here; her house at Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta here, and at the Seri Perdana Residence, Persiaran Seri Perdana, Precinct 10, Putrajaya between January 2016 and Sept 7, 2017.

Earlier in proceedings, when asked by Akberdin as to why she had not taken the initiative to meet with former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to explain why the hybrid solar project should not proceed, Madinah said there was a hierarchy to observe in the civil service, and as such, she had informed the Education Minister at the time, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, about issues affecting the implementation of the project, to which the minister had said that he would convey the same to Najib.

The former secretary-general further disagreed with Akberdin’s suggestion that although Najib had issued two minutes instructing the implementation of the project, Madinah as the supervisory officer, was not bound to follow the instructions because they were wrong.

Hearing continues tomorrow.