September 5, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court has granted Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) for his 47 graft charges.
The charges were brought against him by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection with alleged misuse of funds regarding his charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB).
Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah in his judgment yesterday made the decision after considering both arguments by the prosecution and the defence team.
“It’s clear from the reasons given by the prosecution that the investigation is still ongoing as a result of representations made by the defence.
“It’s therefore justified for the prosecution to examine these representations which also involve taking statements from various individuals, while numerous other reasons were also given,” he said.
Earlier, the prosecution had applied for Ahmad Zahid to be discharged but not acquitted, as further investigations are still needed for the case.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar listed 11 reasons for it; these include ensuring that no miscarriage of justice is committed and to make way for more comprehensive investigations by the authorities.
He also said that the defence had submitted several representations to the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) between last December and March this year.
He also said the DNAA was in view of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) formed to look into claims in former Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ controversial memoir, particularly on alleged selective prosecution.
Ahmad Zahid’s counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik argued for a full discharge instead, saying that further delay would be unfair for his client.
Hisyam Teh argued that there was no timeline set on the conclusion of the investigation by the MACC, as well as the conclusion of the RCI.
Justice Sequerah in his judgment said that the court was placing the DNAA order as the case had been ongoing for 77 days involving a total of 114 witnesses from both prosecution and defence.
“In the premises and for the reasons given, this court placed an order to DNAA,” he ruled.
The judge said that the powers exercised by the AGC under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code to institute or withdraw charges at any time before judgment was unquestioned.
He added however, that a lot of precious judicial time and taxpayer money would be wasted if the prosecution decided not to proceed with the charges in the future.
Meanwhile, Hisyam Teh said an appeal for a total acquittal for all 47 graft charges would be filed today.
“The prosecution has invoked its powers to stop the proceedings.
“This is good for the time being, although there’s no total acquittal, there’s a discharge from the 47 charges.
“We respect the decision of his Lordship and we will respect his Lordship and make an appeal to the Court of Appeal with regards to the decision made.
“We are asking for a total acquittal,” he told the reporters after the proceeding yesterday.
Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal said that the AGC was only exercising its discretion as provided in the Federal Constitution when it decided to stop the charges.
He said the prosecution filing a discharge was a normal matter when the AGC could accept the reasons given by the accused through the representations given.
He also said that the cases which the Umno president was being charged with were a form of political prosecution.
“In our client’s sworn testimony in court, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called our client and gave instructions in a firm tone to dissolve Umno or to accept any consequences if his instructions were not obeyed.
“The meeting with Tun Mahathir was in June 2018. The client refused to submit to Tun Mahathir’s threats and on July 2, 2018, the client was called by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for the purpose of investigation and court action.
“Our client was charged on Oct 19, 2018,” he said.