Will Zahid’s charges be dropped?

K. Kabilan

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial continues this morning with the focus being on whether the prosecution will drop the charges against the accused. – The Malaysian Insight pic by – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, September 4, 2023.

DEPUTY Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial continues this morning with the focus being on whether the prosecution will drop the charges against the accused.

Last month, Zahid’s legal team had urged the Attorney General’s Chambers to decide on two letters of representation that were sent to prosecutors on December 8 last year and January 25 this year.

They said the letters - numbering some 200 pages - cited new evidence that supported Zahid’s innocence.

Sources told The Malaysian Insight that Zahid’s letters of representation mentioned several facts proving that the case against him was politically motivated, with rushed charges brought against him without conducting a proper investigation.

They said the letters showed the prosecution, under then-attorney general Tommy Thomas, had combined all 47 charges under three different offenses in one trial, mixing up facts.

They added that a similar pattern had emerged in the case against Umno veteran Shahrir Samad. That case was dismissed by the court after the investigation officer admitted during trial that the case was brought to court before investigations were completed.

In their statement, Zahid’s lawyers have called for a quick decision on his letters of representation.

They said this was necessary before the defence called even more witnesses to testify.

Under the law, a letter of representation is a method for the accused to seek prosecutors to review the criminal case against him, such as dropping the charge or allowing him to plead guilty to a lesser one.

Zahid, 70, is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, graft, and money laundering.

The breakdown of the charges are: 12 for criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption, and 27 for money laundering involving RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi funds. 

He is accused of committing the offences between March 28, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

He was charged on October 19, 2018 – just months after the fall of the Barisan Nasional government – and has since been ordered to enter his defence.

When the trial resumes today, the prosecution can decide to apply to discharge the Umno president without acquitting him after accepting the letters of representation. This means that he would be freed on the condition that he would be hauled back if new evidence incriminated him.

As it stands, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had already taken a fresh statement from Zahid in June 2023 while the trial was ongoing.

The prosecution can always reopen the case against Zahid pending a full and thorough MACC investigation.

If the AGC decides to drop the charges against Zahid today, it will be one of the last acts from outgoing AG Idrus Harun who inherited all the post-2013 general election high profile political cases when he replaced Thomas in 2020.

Idrus is set to be replaced by the current solicitor-general Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh on Wednesday.

A decision in Zahid’s favour, even if not granting full freedom, would surely be unpopular. 

It will be up to the AGC and defence lawyers to justify the legal manoeuvres involved.  

The trial continues before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah. 

In September 2022, Zahid was acquitted of all 40 graft charges in the Foreign Visa System case.

Shah Alam High Court judge Justice Mohd Yazid Mustafa held that the prosecution had not succeeded in establishing a case against Zahid. – September 4, 2023.  

Outgoing Attorney General Idrus Harun may drop prosecution against Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as one of his last acts in office. – Facebook pic, September 4, 2023.

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