‘Conflict of evidence raises red flags’

KUALA LUMPUR: A serious conflict of evidence given by the prosecution’s star witness turned hostile witness could spell the collapse of three corruption charges against Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic), the Umno president’s lawyer told the High Court.

His lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik put the spotlight on the 36th prosecution witness (SP36) and textile wholesaler, Junaith Asharab Md Shariff, whose testimony was crucial to three out of the 47 charges faced by the accused.

“If the court rejects the witness’ evidence altogether, all the three charges – Charges 11, 12 and 13 – will collapse as they are anchored on the evidence of SP36 (Junaith),” he told Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah here yesterday.

Hisyam was submitting to the court in respect of the 11th, 12th and 13th charges faced by Ahmad Zahid at the end of the prosecution’s case.

The Bagan Datuk MP is facing 47 charges – 12 for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

According to Hisyam, SP36 had contradicted himself during cross-examination.

“On one hand, in his written statement, he said the accused had promised to give him MyEG projects after the 14th general election and asked him to submit his proposals.

“On the other hand, when he was cross-examined, SP36 maintained that these aspects in his written statement were not true.

“There is thus a serious conflict of evidence,” Hisyam said.

The lawyer said this had compromised the credibility of the witness.

“The benefit of the doubt must tilt in favour of the defence,” he added.

The prosecution consequently applied for their own witness to be treated as a hostile witness, but Hisyam called the court to accept two aspects from SP36’s evidence, which, he said, “remain credible”.

The two aspects are SP36’s testimony that RM250,000 (a sum mentioned in Charge 11) was a loan to the accused’s younger brother, Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi, and that a sum of RM13mil (mentioned in Charges 12 and 13) was SP36’s donation to the construction of a mosque and tahfiz in Bagan Datuk, Perak.

SP36 had testified under oath that the 23 cheques central to Charges 12 and 13 were given not as a bribe or inducement.

“It was his (Junaith’s) personal contributions or donations for religious and charitable purposes,” Hisyam added.

The two aspects, Hisyam added, were testified by SP36 in examination-in-chief and reiterated in cross-examination.

The lawyer submitted that there were two ways for the court to treat the evidence of a hostile witness – the court could reject the whole evidence or accept parts of the evidence that could be corroborated upon.

“Whichever view your lordship takes, the prosecution’s case is compromised,” Hisyam said.

The hearing continues on Monday.

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