KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Matthias Chang Wen Chieh have been acquitted and discharged by a Sessions Court here over a charge of attempting to sabotage the country's banking and financial system.
Judge Wan Mohd Norisham Wan Yaakob made the order after considering submissions by the prosecution and defence on Friday.
Judge Wan Mohd Norisham said the court agreed with the submission by counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla that his clients should be granted an acquittal in view of public interest.
"The court now acquits both the accused from the charge. The bails and passports are to be returned," he said.
On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud told judge Wan Mohd Norisham that the prosecution found that it would be fair to drop the charge against the two.
"We will not proceed with the trial as we received a directive to seek a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) for Khairuddin and Chang," he said.
But Mohamed Haniff argued that the prosecution should grant an acquittal to his clients and not a DNAA.
"If the DNAA is allowed, the prosecution can press a similar charge at any time against my clients," he said.
Khairuddin, 55, and Chang, 67, were charged in a magistrate's court on Oct 12, 2015, with committing the offence between June 28 and Aug 26, 2015, at the Paris police station, Charing Cross police station in London, the Swiss attorney-general's office in Bern, the WaiChan police station in Hong Kong and the Cantonment police headquarters in Singapore.
Both face up to 15 years in jail under Section 124L of the Penal Code, if convicted.
On April 27, the Federal Court granted an application by the duo to strike out two notices of appeal by the prosecution against the Court of Appeal's decision.
This meant neither of them could be tried under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) for allegedly trying to sabotage banking and financial services.
Their trial was to be heard at the Sessions Court under the Penal Code from Thursday.
A five-man panel, chaired by Federal Court judge Justice Hasan Lah, unanimously allowed an application by both to strike out two notices of appeal by the prosecution.
"We agree with the applicants that under Rule 88 (1) of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995, it is mandatory for the appellant, the public prosecutor to serve a notice of appeal to the applicants within 14 days.
"It was not done. Both appeals were struck out," said Justice Hasan.
On Dec 13 last year, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court's decision that both could not be charged under Sosma for the alleged offence.