MACC probe into Zahid’s case reflects badly on AG, says Abu Talib

Former attorney-general Abu Talib Othman says the case must proceed since all evidence is before the court once defence is called.

(FMT) – A former attorney-general said further investigations being conducted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) into Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s criminal case reflect badly on current AG Idrus Harun.

Abu Talib Othman said the prosecution had already proved its case against Zahid last year after the deputy prime minister was told to enter his defence on all charges brought against him.

“A prima facie case was established as the prosecution had proved the ingredients in all the charges.

“What is there to investigate further, unless there are other reasons one can only speculate at? In my view, this reflects badly on the present AG,” he said.

Abu Talib, who was the attorney-general from 1980 to 1993, said this after Zahid’s trial was adjourned following representations made by the defence to the prosecution earlier this year.

Deputy public prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob informed trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Monday that those representations could only be reviewed by the AG after MACC has completed its probe.

Lawyers for Zahid, who is also the Umno president, had sent two sets of representations to the prosecution for consideration, the first in January, followed by another in February.

Malik said the representations were about 200 pages long and the prosecution needed time to peruse them as they raise complex issues.

Sequerah allowed the trial to be postponed after Malik said he was instructed by Idrus not to object to the request.

Abu Talib said the making of representations was not a good reason to postpone cases as justice in criminal trials is both for accused persons and the public.

“Under the Federal Constitution, the AG has absolute discretion to withdraw the case, (failing which) he should proceed (with the trial) as all evidence is before the court once defence is called,” he said.

He also said the due administration of justice should not be hindered by postponements.

Meanwhile, lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar said Zahid only needs to rebut and create a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case to earn an acquittal.

“Any further investigation by MACC after the defence is called is meaningless,” he said, adding that Idrus, as guardian of public interest, must act without fear or favour when discharging his duties.

The trial has been tentatively fixed to resume from Aug 1 to 3, 7 to 10 and between 21 and 24.

Further hearing dates have been added in September to December.

On Nov 2 last year, the judge adjourned the case to Jan 16 pending the outcome of Zahid’s appeal to the Court of Appeal in respect of his application to obtain witness statements recorded by MACC.

However, Zahid discontinued the appeal.

It was not made known in open court then why the trial scheduled on Jan 16 was postponed.

The defence has called six witnesses so far.

Zahid is accused of 47 counts of money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as the home minister between 2013 and 2018.

Twelve of the charges are for CBT, eight for corruption and the remaining 27 for money laundering.