The Sessions Court here today set 31 days beginning June next year to hear the trial of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng who is facing four charges involving the construction of the undersea tunnel project in Penang.
Judge Azura Alwi set the date after allowing deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin’s application for all the charges against Lim, 58, to be heard together.
“There is a case with two charges under Section 403 of the Penal Code against the accused at the Butterworth Sessions Court, Penang. I request the case to be transferred to the court here and tried together with the case under Section 16 (a) (A) and Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.
“I’m applying for all the cases to be tried together in accordance with Section 61 of the MACC Act because it involves the same accused,” he said during mention of the case today.
Azura then set the trial dates on June 8 to 11; July 12 to 16; July 28 and 29, Aug 16 to 20, Sept 6 to 10 and 20 to 24, and continued from Dec 13 to 17 Dec, with the case management fixed on March 29.
Wan Shaharuddin also informed the court that the prosecution would call between 80 to 90 witnesses in the trial of the four cases.
“The prosecution has also handed over eight volumes of documents to the defence,” he added.
The defence, represented by lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, confirmed the matter and requested for the court to set the next mention date for March.
“We need time to study the documents. Yang Berhormat (Lim) also has another case at the Butterworth Sessions Court and possibly a new date will be fixed,” he said.
The court also allowed the defence application to exempt Lim’s presence in court during the next case management.
Earlier, Lim pleaded not guilty to two amended charges made under Section 16(A)(a) and Section 23 of the MACC Act, which were read out to him.
On the first count, Lim was charged with using his position as the Penang Chief Minister then, for gratification amounting RM3.3 million, as an inducement for helping a company belonging to Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the undersea tunnel project, valued at RM6.3 million.
The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, 28th Floor, KOMTAR, Georgetown, Penang, under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act which carries an imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
On the second amended charge, Lim was charged in his capacity as the Chief Minister of Penang to have solicited bribes amounting to 10 per cent of the profits from Zarul to be earned by the company as gratification for helping it to secure the project.
The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, here, between 12.30 am and 2 am in March 2011.
The charge, framed under Section 16 of the MACC Act, provides an imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
The Bagan Member of Parliament also faced two charges with causing two plots of land, worth RM208.8 million, belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies, which are linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.
The charges, under Section 403 of the Penal Code, provide for an imprisonment of up to five years and whipping, and a fine, upon conviction.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Level 21, KOMTAR, on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.