Court grants bid by Bung Moktar, wife to halt corruption case

(FMT) – The High Court here has stayed the RM2.8 million corruption trial of Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin and his wife, Zizie Izette, pending disposal of their application to review a lower court order requiring them to answer the charges brought against them.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah granted the order after deputy public prosecutor Faridz Gohim Abdullah said the prosecution would not object to the couple’s bid to suspend their trial.

The couple was represented by lawyers M Athimulan and K Kumaraendran.

Today was initially fixed for hearing, with the couple expected to enter their defence.

Bung, who is also Kinabatangan MP and a Sabah deputy chief minister, was charged under Section 17(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, while Zizie faces a charge under Section 28(1)(c).

Earlier this month, the sessions court ordered them to enter their defence to the charges.

Bung was charged with two counts of receiving bribes amounting to RM2.2 million and RM262,500 as gratification to secure Felcra’s approval for a RM150 million investment in Public Mutual unit trusts in June 2015. He was Felcra’s chairman at material time.

Zizie faces three charges of abetting her husband in the matter.

The couple filed a motion, asking the High Court to review the sessions court’s order directing them to enter their defence.

They claim that two key prosecution witnesses – Madhi Abdul Hamid and Norhaili Ahmad Mokhtar – were treated as hostile witnesses, and that “this was contradictory to the findings made by the sessions judge”.

Sessions court judge Rozina Ayob had acknowledged on Sept 2 that she was aware and cautious of the fact that Madhi and Norhaili had given statements to MACC which contradicted their testimonies in court.

“After due consideration, I accepted other parts of the evidence given by them,” she said, adding that the court considered testimonies by other witnesses.

Thirty prosecution witnesses, including Madhi and Norhaili, testified.

The sessions court said it had taken note of the stay order, with Rozina deferring the trial to another date.

She also fixed Sept 26 for mention to enable the prosecution and defence to update her on the couple’s review bid.