Zahid Hamidi’s VLN trial: Will he stroll or enter his defence?

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Zahid Hamidi’s VLN trial: Will he walk or enter his defence?

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi leaving after his court docket case at Kuala Lumpur Excessive Court docket September 22, 2022. — Image by Hari Anggara

SHAH ALAM, Sept 23 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will discover immediately whether or not or not he may have to defend himself in opposition to 40 expenses of taking bribes from Extremely Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB), the corporate awarded a authorities contract for a overseas visa system.

For many who might need forgotten, right here’s a refresher on what the case is all about and what the doable outcomes could be.

Now the Umno president, Ahmad Zahid was first charged in June 2019 with 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from UKSB as inducement for himself in his capability as a civil servant and the then residence minister to lengthen the corporate’s contract to function One Cease Centres in China and built-in visa system higher identified by its Malay initials VLN (brief for Visa Luar Negara).

He was additionally charged with one other seven counts of acquiring gratification in numerous currencies from the identical firm for himself in connection together with his official work. In the midst of his trial thus far, these money kickbacks are mentioned to quantity to S$1.15 million, RM3 million, CHF15,000 and US$15,000.

The Bagan Datuk MP is claimed to have dedicated all these offences on the deputy prime minister’s official residence in Seri Satria, Presint 16, Putrajaya and his non-public residence in Nation Heights, Kajang, Selangor.

Ahmad Zahid was residence minister when the Barisan Nasional was authorities from Could 2013 till Could 2018. His ministry was in command of the Immigration Division.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran has described the now 69-year-old as making the most of his place as a public officer to reap financial advantages for himself between October 2014 to March 2018.

Trial and what has occurred thus far

Regardless of the in depth expenses, Ahmad Zahid’s trial correct began solely two years in a while Could 24, 2021.

All in, the prosecution has known as 18 witnesses over a span of 29 days of listening to.

All through the trial, prosecutors sought to painting Ahmad Zahid knowingly exceeding his official capabilities as a residence minister in return for money funds from UKSB as proof has overwhelmingly proven.

Prosecutors additionally highlighted the mixed direct, circumstantial and documentary proof to determine that Ahmad Zahid had acted with full data about UKSB’s working relationship with the Residence Ministry in relation to the federal government’s award of the VLN contract.

Documentary proof included official papers and correspondences pertaining to UKSB’s contracts with the Residence Ministry that bore Ahmad Zahid’s handwritten notes and minutes.

Essentially the most contentious proof submitted by the defence in court docket was a private ledger that stored depend of money funds made to varied politicians, authorities workers and Ahmad Zahid owned by UKSB’s former administrative supervisor David Tan Siong Solar.

Throughout trial, attorneys performing for Ahmad Zahid didn’t as soon as dispute the accusation that their shopper had acquired thousands and thousands in money from UKSB. As an alternative, the defence selected to focus on that the contentious ledger named different high-profile folks. This was famous by the prosecution in its submission.

The prosecution additionally produced three key witnesses in court docket who offered oral testimony that Ahmad Zahid had accepted month-to-month money funds from UKSB, validating the ledger’s contents. These three prosecution witnesses have been former UKSB executives Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani and Harry Lee Vui Khiun, and Tan.

Learn right here for a breakdown of recurring money funds UKSB made to Ahmad Zahid involving a whole lot of 1000’s in Singapore {dollars} that has turn out to be the prosecution’s central proof of bribery.

Of their ultimate arguments, prosecutors sought to persuade the court docket to treat Ahmad Zahid as an officer of a public physique and never a politician asking for cash to be given on the pretext of political donation.

What if Ahmad Zahid is acquitted?

Ought to the decide resolve that the prosecution has established a prima facie case, Ahmad Zahid will likely be ordered to enter his defence.

He then has three choices to accomplish that: make a sworn proof from the witness stand the place he will likely be subjected to cross-examination; make an unsworn assertion from the dock; or stay silent.

However the decide may resolve there isn’t a prima facie case. That may imply Ahmad Zahid could be given a discharge amounting to an acquittal.

However lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali mentioned if Ahmad Zahid is acquitted at this stage, the prosecution can nonetheless file an enchantment inside 14 days on the appellate court docket.

Muhammad Rafique mentioned this process is allowed beneath the Court docket of Judicature Act.

He defined that if the Court docket of Enchantment decides to overturn the acquittal, the trial will resume on the Excessive Court docket and Ahmad Zahid would should enter his defence.

If the acquittal is maintained, the prosecution can once more file an enchantment on the Federal Court docket inside 14 days of the Court docket of Enchantment’s resolution the place the identical course of could be repeated.

The one distinction, Muhammad Rafique identified, was that any resolution made by the apex court docket is ultimate.

“If the Court docket of Enchantment nonetheless maintains that the prosecution did not show a prima facie case, then the following step is an enchantment to the Federal Court docket.

“On the Federal Court docket — which additionally has the ability to demand defence — if that occurs then his case will revert to the Excessive Court docket, or if it feels the enchantment has no deserves, then the enchantment will likely be dismissed and Ahmad Zahid can not be charged as a result of that’s the ultimate court docket,” Muhammad Rafique advised Malay Mail.

However even when Ahmad Zahid walks free immediately from the VLN bribery expenses, he continues to be on trial for one more corruption case the place he’s accused of 47 felony breach of belief, corruption and cash laundering expenses involving tens of thousands and thousands of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, the charity organisation he based.

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