Ahmad Zahid told to enter defence on Yayasan Akalbudi corruption charges

The Umno president will not be entitled to any ‘immunity’ from prosecution

by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE High Court has ordered Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) to make a defence on 47 charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corruption in relation to his Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

Trial Judge Datuk Colin Lawrence Sequerah said the court was satisfied that the prosecution had successfully made a case for the Umno president to answer in court.

Sequerah had earlier dismissed a proposal submitted last year by Ahmad Zahid’s defence that he should be immune from prosecution to most of the charges under Section 30(7) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act after the defendant disclosed information about Yayasan Akalbudi during investigation.

Ahmad Zahid’s defence had submitted that he should enjoy immunity under the provision, which has since been repealed, that stated anyone who disclosed information or produced documents to the authorities would not be incriminated.

The defence said Ahmad Zahid gave MACC officers details about Yayasan Akalbudi, its funding sources as well as personal information, and therefore should be immune from prosecution.

The prosecution argued that the defence raised the immunity aspect in an attempt to strike out all the charges.

Ahmad Zahid is facing eight corruption charges, 12 charges for CBT and 27 for money laundering in relation to the fund he leads which involve millions of ringgit.

Ahmad Zahid had the option to defend himself via sworn statements, be questioned in the dock or remain silent. His lawyer said Ahmad Zahid will give sworn statements before the court.

Seen at the court yesterday was Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Ahmad Zahid’s daughter Datuk Nurul Hidayah.

A total of 99 prosecution witnesses testified in the trial which began on Nov 18, 2019.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran told the court that the prosecution offered 37 witnesses to Ahmad Zahid’s defence team, to which the defence senior counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said they would call 20 of the witnesses. Hisyam had proposed for the defence trial to begin on April 26 instead of the initial date on March 28, as he said the defence team requires more time to interview witnesses.

“Can we suggest that the defence be given more time because we have to interview witnesses, study the witness statements, prepare the statements and they must be served for prosecution 14 days before the trial. Can we suggest my Lord, for the defence to commence on April 26,” he said.

Sequerah agreed to accommodate the proposal and allow for the defence to begin on April 26.

Speaking outside the court complex at Jalan Duta, Ahmad Zahid said he accepted and would comply with the decisions of the court.

“Once the defence begins, my team will conduct their tasks based on the procedures set by the court,” he said.

Hisyam said he was confident that his team will succeed in the trial.

“We will put up a strong and robust defence which will start on April 26. We got a strong defence and are very confident we will succeed in the trial,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid, who is Bagan Datuk MP, is also facing 40 charges at the Shah Alam Sessions Court for accepting bribes from a company over the overseas visa system, which brought the total charges against him to 87. That case is fixed for hearing on Feb 3.