Prosecution appeals against Zahid’s acquittal in visa case

The prosecution in Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s foreign visa system (VLN) trial has filed an appeal against his acquittal, The Edge reported today.

The notice of appeal was filed today, a source with the Attorney General’s Chambers told on condition of anonymity.

Last week, the Shah Alam High Court acquitted the former deputy prime minister of all 40 corruption charges involving the VLN.

Presiding judge Yazid Mustafa ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the Umno president.

He also said that there was insufficient evidence to prove Zahid had received money as suggested by the prosecution.

Yazid said that the prosecution failed to produce any close-circuit television (CCTV) recordings to show cash being delivered to Zahid’s residence.

Touching on the personal ledger—owned by the former administrative manager of the company awarded the VLN contract—that recorded cash payments made to various politicians, government staff and Zahid, the judge said that the account book was unreliable and no weightage should be given to it.

The prosecution was represented by deputy public prosecutors Raja Rozela Raja Toran, Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Abdul Malik Ayob, Zander Lim Wai Keong, and B. Thavani, while lawyers Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, Ahmad Zaidi Zainal and Hamidi Mohd Noh, represented Zahid.

Zahid, who is also the Barisan Nasional chairman, had pleaded not guilty to 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to SG$13.56 million (RM43.68 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd for himself as home minister.

He is said to have extended the contract of the company as the operator of a one-stop centre (OSC) service in China and the VLN system, as well as to maintain its contract with the Home Ministry to supply the VLN integrated system.

On the other seven charges, he was alleged to have obtained for himself cash of SG$1,150,000, RM3 million, CH₣15,000, and US$15,000 from the same company, which he knew had a connection with his official functions. TMI

Bersih launches petition to separate AG, public prosecutor roles

Bersih says the attorney-general should remain as the government’s legal adviser and have no role in any judicial matters.

PETALING JAYA: Bersih has launched an online petition, calling on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and all MPs to separate the role of the public prosecutor from that of the attorney-general (AG) before the next general election (GE15).

The AG is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister. He is, therefore, a political appointee and serves as the legal adviser to the King, the prime minister, and the Cabinet, the electoral reform group said.

“This is a conflict of interest and this has led to allegations of political interference through selective prosecution and immunity, non-pursuance of existing charges, and withdrawal of charges for those aligned with the government,” it said in a statement.

Bersih urged for the public prosecutor’s role to be carried out by a separate person, independently appointed by the King through a transparent process free from the prime minister’s influence.

“The AG should remain as the government’s legal adviser on the advice of the prime minister, and have no role in any judicial matters.”

On Saturday, Bersih called for the roles of the public prosecutor and AG to be separated, citing the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ establishment of a working committee to study the separation of the two roles last year.

This comes after the uproar following the court verdict on the Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim graft case. The Baling MP was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) following a request by the deputy public prosecutor on Sept 23 to allow for new leads to be investigated.

Bersih said this shows the necessity of having the prosecution office independent from the AG.

Last Friday, the Kuala Lumpur sessions court granted Azeez a DNAA after he submitted representations to withdraw the three corruption charges and six money laundering charges he was facing.

Azeez was charged in 2019 with accepting bribes amounting to RM5.2 million in connection with road projects in Perak and Kedah. FMT