KUALA LUMPUR — The Court of Appeal has fixed November 17 for another case management for the prosecution’s appeal against Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s acquittal of 40 charges of corruption in connection with the foreign visa (VLN) system.

A case management for the appeal was conducted earlier this morning before Court of Appeal assistant registrar Mohd Khairi Haron today who fixed the new case management date.

Zander, when contacted by Malay Mail, confirmed a further case management date was fixed following a request by the prosecution for more time to consider Ahmad Zahid’s representation for the prosecution to discontinue its appeal.

The Umno president pleaded not guilty to 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) for himself as home minister to extend 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.

According to the charge sheet, Ahmad Zahid, who was former home minister, was alleged to have committed those offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

This is Ahmad Zahid’s second case after he was granted a discharged not amounting to an acquittal by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on September 8.

In that case, Ahmad Zahid was accused of dishonestly misappropriating RM31 million from the charitable organisation he founded. MM

Anwar’s doublespeak on Zahid’s DNAA

It would be correct to describe the course of events – words and deeds, spoken and done – after the High Court granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Sept 4 as misleading.

To say they have been confusing would be appropriate because of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s various statements on the issue.

Last Monday, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul rejected the emergency motion filed by Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (Perikatan Nasional-Machang) to debate Zahid’s DNAA.

Johari dismissed accusations that his decision to reject the motion was influenced by the prime minister’s stance on the matter after Anwar had said previously that Parliament was no place to debate the matter.

In an immediate response to the prime minister, PN chief whip Takiyuddin Hassan said Anwar had overstepped his jurisdiction in declining to debate Zahid’s DNAA.

All these changed within four days. There was an about-turn of sorts on Friday. KiniTV quoted Anwar as saying that “he has not rejected the possibility of answering questions on the DNAA.”

Speaking to reporters, the prime minister briefly was heard saying: “Maybe, InsyaAllah (If God wills it).”

Questionable charges, leaked letters

Was it an afterthought or was it because an international audience had already been given a detailed explanation in Singapore?

Anwar, who previously denied interfering in the decision saying it was within the powers of the attorney-general (AG), said that the charges against Zahid were “questionable” and not carried out professionally.

“Was it 47? Every cheque is a charge. So, the charge is questionable. Every cheque issued is a charge by itself, which does not necessarily seem to be professionally done,” he said when asked about the dropped graft charges during a session at the annual Milken Institute Asia Summit in Singapore.

(A video recording of excerpts of the interview has gone viral.)

But what Anwar failed to explain is that the law requires every cheque form a separate charge.

Anwar also repeated a claim by Zahid that the charges had been brought against him in 2019 because he refused to fulfil a demand by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to dissolve Umno.

“When was the charge proffered? During that time, Mahathir was prime minister. When? A week after he called up this president of this nationalist party (Umno), which is a member of my coalition, and told him (Zahid), ‘You dissolve your party and join my party,’” he said.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

In short, Anwar justified the DNAA on the grounds that it was not professionally done and that they were motivated.

The charges were so flawed, he said, that it bothered the conscience of the previous AG, Idrus Harun, who wanted to set things right before he left office.

Anwar also cited claims of a “leaked document” which purportedly showed that members of the prosecution had opposed the charges against Zahid.

“Leaked letters” have been the flavour of the month and similar reasons have been cited seeking charges to be dropped against Najib Abdul Razak’s IPIC case.

If it was so flawed as claimed, why did it take the AG so long to withdraw? Zahid was charged in December 2018 – almost five years ago when Tommy Thomas was the AG.

Idrus assumed office in March 2020 but the question is: Why did he allow the trial to proceed until earlier this month? Why wait until a prima facie case had been established?

He was asked to enter his defence by the High Court in January last year. It cannot be imaginable that such flaws were only discovered by the AG’s Chambers this month.

‘90pct rule’

It must be noted that Zahid’s lawyers had sent eight representation letters to the AGC, with the latest on Jan 25, consisting of 200 pages seeking to review and withdraw all charges for allegedly being baseless.

Despite these letters, the trial proceeded and there were no attempts to withdraw the case.

On the other hand, the evidence presented had convinced the court that Zahid had a case to answer and Zahid was ordered to enter his defence. Besides, some defence witnesses had already testified.

Abu Talib Othman, who was AG from 1980 to 1993, said he had introduced the “90 percent rule” during his tenure and that cases should not be brought to court unless the criteria were met.

“It’s a matter of whether you have evidence. You only prosecute a person if the person clearly committed a criminal offence. What the public perceives and wants are not relevant.”

There has been no announcement of changes to these policies and practices and hence, they are still in place.

The decision to ask Zahid to enter his defence is justified in charging him in the first place. Why then is Anwar claiming that the charges are flawed?  MKINI