KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on all 47 of his criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering charges in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds after 114 witnesses including the deputy prime minister testified at the High Court here.
The decision was made by Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah today after hearing 11 grounds that were submitted by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar in relation to halting the trial.
Among the reasons that the prosecutor submitted were that he had instructions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to stop the charges against Ahmad Zahid and to classify the case as a DNAA.
Mohd Dusuki said this was because the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is still investigating the charges after Ahmad Zahid had sent letters of representation to the AGC and MACC earlier this year.
However, Ahmad Zahid’s counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik asked the judge to consider a full acquittal instead, as the prosecution did not give a timeline to complete its investigations.
“The case is at the defence stage and a total of 15 witnesses have testified so far, and now the AGC decided to review and conduct further investigations in this case. This case has been hanging over my client’s head since 2018.
“The AGC itself does not want to continue the case. Thus, my client must be given full acquittal,” said Hisyam, adding that it would be unfair and unjust if Ahmad Zahid was not given full acquittal.
After hearing submissions from both parties, Judge Sequerah gave a court order for the DNAA on Ahmad Zahid, ruling that the reasons given by the prosecutor, including that of the setting up of the Royal Commission Inquiry although they do not have a timeline, do not in any manner suggest that it is the end of the matter as far as the charges involved in this case are concerned.
“The prosecution in my mind has given cogent reasons why they seek DNAA in this case,” the judge said.
The judge also said the facts in Ahmad Zahid’s case could be distinguished from or are different from the past court judgments that Hisyam had cited to argue for a full acquittal for Ahmad Zahid, adding that those High Court cases also do not bind this High Court.
For instance, the judge said those past court cases included situations where the prosecution did not state clearly why the accused should be granted a DNAA, unlike Ahmad Zahid’s case where the prosecution listed at least 11 reasons when seeking the DNAA.
Before concluding the court proceedings, the judge also stressed that it would be a waste of time and taxpayers’ money if the prosecution later decides not to proceed with the charges.
“Before I adjourn, I wish to place on record that the power of the Atorney-General under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code to institute and withdraw charges at any time before judgment is passed is unquestioned.
“Should the prosecution decide in the near future that they will not proceed any further with the charges, then much precious judicial time would have been wasted and a great amount of taxpayers’ money would also have been wasted,” the judge said.
Right after the decision was announced, Ahmad Zahid, clad in a dark suit, hugged his supporters and family members who sat inside the packed courtroom.
Hisyam told reporters that they would file an appeal at the Court of Appeal tomorrow over today’s ruling.
Speaking to the media at the court complex, Ahmad Zahid, who looked calm, thanked Allah, his lawyers and those who had supported him.
Ahmad Zahid, 70, who is also UMNO president and Barisan Nasional chairman, was slapped with the 47 charges in late 2018 and early 2019.
A total of 114 witnesses were called to testify in the trial, which started on Nov 18, 2019 and lasted 77 days.
After 99 prosecution witnesses testified in the trial, the High Court on Jan 24, 2022 ordered Ahmad Zahid to enter his defence on all 47 charges. Ahmad Zahid was among the 15 defence witnesses who testified in the case.
The 47 charges comprised 12 counts of CBT, 27 counts of money laundering and eight counts of bribery.