Judge at corruption trials blows her top

MYT 3:52:50 PM

IPOH: Sessions Judge Rasidah Chik blew her top when the corruption trial of former Ipoh city council landscape director Zulkifli Redzuan, which has gone on for almost three years, had to be postponed yet again. 

She was told on Thursday that Zulkifli's lawyer Naran Singh could not be present for the case and that the investigating officer (IO) handling the case files had to rush back to his hometown for a family emergency. 

“How can this keep happening over and over again? How long can we keep postponing this case? 

“The matter was called up on May 2005 and until now it has not been resolved because of constant postponements. 

“There is never a time when there is a full attendance; either the lawyer is not present or the accused,” she told the court. 

She added that she had to answer to Kuala Lumpur on why the case was constantly being delayed. 

"Where is the IO? Where is his hometown?" Rasidah asked Perak Anti-Corruption Agency Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Hamzah Ismail. 

"I am sorry, Yang Arif (Your Honour). I am not aware of where he stays," he said. 

On Naran Singh's absence, counsel Manjeet Kaur, who was standing in for him, told the court that Naran had to attend to a drug-related matter in the Taiping High Court. 

"Naran Singh had also tried to request for a postponement of the case (in Taiping) but it could not be granted because the accused in the case had been under remand since May 14, 2001," she said. 

Zulkifli faces three charges of corruption involving RM18,000, which he allegedly accepted as an inducement to help Prof Ismail Mat, a landscape consultant for JR Rekataman Sdn Bhd, secure two landscaping projects worth about RM92,000. 

Rasidah had initially insisted that the hearing be continued when the case was called up in Thursday morning, even when told that Naran Singh could not be present for the cross-examination of the last prosecution witness. 

To date, only five prosecution witnesses have testified, with two reserved for cross-examination by the defence. 

Rasidah ordered for the court to stand down for about an hour and proceeded with the trial at 11am. 

However, Manjeet Kaur then urged the prosecution to call its third witness because Naran Singh was not present to cross-examine the last witness. 

On the other hand, DPP Mohd Hamzah said the IO was not present and the defence should instead cross-examine the last two witnesses before the prosecution called in its next witness. 

Rasidah, who then fixed May 23 for the next hearing, warned all concerned that the case would have to go on even if the lawyer or the accused was not present.

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