KOTA KINABALU: The Sessions Court here will decide by Thursday whether to allow the Public Prosecutor’s application to transfer the corruption trial of former Sabah Land Development Board general manager Datuk Wasli Mohd Said to the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.
Judge Datuk Nurchaya Arshad said she had to refer the matter to the Kota Kinabalu High Court as there had never been any precedence of criminal cases being transferred from a lower court here to a High Court in the peninsula.
“I will have to refer to the High Court to determine whether this court is subordinate to only the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak or to the High Court of Malaya as well,” she said after hearing arguments from Senior Federal Counsel Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah and counsel Datuk Chau Chin Tang who represented Wasli.
Nurchaya said the reference would also ensure that any decision of the Sessions Court would not be ultra vires the High Court.
She added that she expected to be able to give a decision on Thursday.
Earlier, Tun Abdul Majid argued that Section 418A(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) allowed the Public Prosecutor to transfer cases which have been registered or charged in a subordinate court to any High Court in Malaysia.
However, Chau objected and stated that the Sessions Court would be acting unconstitutionally if it allowed Wasli’s case to be transferred to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
He said the Sessions Court was only empowered to transfer a case to the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak.
Chau pointed out that Article 121(1) of the Constitution vests judicial power of the Federation in two separate High Courts, namely the High Court in Malaya and the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak.
“There would also be a clear breach of Section 418A(1) of the CPC if an order for transfer of this case is made to the Kuala Lumpur High Court as this section does not include the phrase 'Notwithstanding any law’,” he said.
Wasli, 56, who was also the group managing director of Sawit Kinabalu Bhd after the corporatisation of the state-owned SLDB, pleaded not guilty on Feb 12 to five charges involving RM1mil and 3.36 million company shares.
Among others, Wasli was accused of bribing Land and Co-operative Development Minister Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam with 3.36 million shares of Sapi Plantation Sdn Bhd between Nov 4, 1996 and Oct 25, 1997 when Kasitah was SLDB chairman.
Wasli was accused of corruptly giving Kasitah the shares as an inducement for Kasitah to support the approval of the purchase of SLBD’s share in Sapi Plantation by Syarikat Briskmark Enterprise Sdn Bhd during a meeting of the SLDB board of directors on Oct 22, 1996.
He was accused of giving RM100,000 to the then SLDB director John Liaw Chee Shing in early 1998 as an inducement to support the sale of SLDB shares in Sapi Plantations to Briskmark between March 1997 and May 1997.
Wasli is alleged to have given another RM400,000 bribe to Liaw in early 1998 for a similar motive.
He is also faces another charge of paying RM100,000 in bribe in late 1997 to former SLDB director Michael Emban and a fifth charge of making a second payment of RM400,000 again to Emban for the purpose of the sale of the shares in June 1998.
All offences were committed at the SLDB headquarters in Jalan Tuaran here and the charges under the Anti-Corruption Act 1961 provided a maximum sentence of 20 years' jail and ten times the amount involved.
Wasli was subsequently released on RM1mil bail and had his international passport impounded.
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