IPOH: The Indonesian maid who was allegedly raped by Perak state executive council member Paul Yong Choo Kiong will most likely be the first witness for the trial next month and give her testimony in a closed court.
Yong's lawyers Datuk Rajpal Singh and Leong Cheok Keng made the request to the prosecution before Sessions Court judge Norashima Khalid during the case management proceedings.
Prior to that, Deputy Public Prosecutor Azhar Mokhtar, who was leading the team, said that the witness would be called to testify via a video link, which the defence team objected to.
Azhar said the victim was protected under the Witness Protection Act and it would be better for her to testify via a video link and not be physically present in court.
Rajpal objected to this and told the court that the victim was not a child under 18 but a 23-year-old woman.
He said the victim could testify in camera (legal term for "in chambers") without the presence of the public or others unrelated to the case.
"This will allow both the judge and the defence team to see her demeanour. When we cross examine her, we need to be rest assured that she is not being influenced by anyone sitting beside her somewhere, if the testimony is heard via a video link.
"The Act (Witness Protection) does not apply to her, as the victim's name has already been disclosed, as the whole case is based on the first information report," he added.
Rajpal also told the court that the watching brief lawyer for the victim's mother had also informed the court that she was not allowed to see her daughter.
"I don't understand why the victim is being hidden, that even her own mother is not allowed to visit her," he told the court.
The prosecution team later agreed for the witness to testify in camera, with Azhar stating that only the accused's lawyers, the prosecution team, the judge, and the officially registered watching brief lawyer of the victim could be present.
"In rape cases, the demeanour and credibility of the witness is the main factor, so we think testimony in camera is a better option," Azhar told reporters outside the court later.
Norashima fixed Nov 11,13,14 and 15 for hearing, after the defence team requested if Nov 12 could be excluded, as Yong had to attend the state assembly sitting.
Yong is claiming trial to a charge of raping his 23-year-old maid at his home.
According to the charge sheet, he committed the act in a room at the top floor of his house in Meru Desa Park on July 7, between 8.15pm and 9.15pm.
Leong also requested the prosecution to review or withdraw the case, as the chemist's report did not show any traces of sperm found on the items seized belonging to the accused.
However, Azhar stated that the prosecution has other testimonies that could link the accused with the charge, and that they were not solely relying on the chemist's report.
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