KUALA LUMPUR: A former political secretary to former defence minister Mohamad Sabu has claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to five counts of graft where he allegedly solicited and received bribes amounting to more than RM6.3mil over a contract linked to the ministry.
Mohd Azhar Che Mat Dali, 49, pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out to him before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi here on Thursday (Oct 15).
According to the first charge, he was accused of corruptly soliciting RM5mil from one Elias Jemadi Tajudin, a managing director at FEHM Entity Sdn Bhd, as a reward for him to assist the company to be chosen as the strategic partner and contractor for maintenance of the ministry's intelligence system.
He allegedly committed the offence at a boutique hotel on Jalan Ampang on July 22, last year.
For the second to fifth charges, Azhar allegedly received RM425,000, RM175,000, RM250,000 and RM500,000 from Elias and two other middlemen, as a reward to assist FEHM Entity for the same purpose.
The offences were allegedly committed at several locations in Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur – including at the parking area of the official residence of the defence minister at Jalan Bellamy – between September, last year, until February this year.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mahadi Abdul Jumaat from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) proposed RM500mil bail for all five charges.
"RM500,000 is not an excessive amount for bail as the amount involved was RM6.3mil. This is a non-bailable offence and the accused does not have the right to an automatic bail," he said.
Azhar's lawyer Ariff Azami Hussein argued for a minimum bail on grounds that his client had been unemployed since the movement control order (MCO) was implemented in March.
He said Azhar, who has seven children, was not a flight risk and had given full cooperation to the authorities during investigations.
"He will not abscond as he lives with his family and has two school-going children. He could only raise RM30,000 for bail as he was informed about the charges yesterday," Ariff said.
Judge Azura then fixed RM300,000 bail in two sureties.
The court also ordered the accused to report to the MACC office in Putrajaya monthly, to surrender his passport and to not communicate with the prosecution witnesses until the disposal of the case.
The accused was also allowed to pay half of his bail today and settle the balance next Thursday (Oct 22).
The case is fixed for mention on Nov 26.