Defence: Don’t accept witness’ statements

KUALA LUMPUR: The lawyer of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is challenging the admissibility of the statements of a key witness which the prosecution seeks to use as evidence in his corruption trial in the Sessions Court.

Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo said Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer Asst Supt Mohd Nazri Mansor, who recorded the statements of prominent developer, the late Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng, did not record his statements in full.

When questioning the 15th prosecution witness on Monday, Gobind asked why a statement made on Aug 14 by Ewe was partly in handwriting and partly in printed format.

ASP Mohd Nazri explained that he did not have a laptop and had to record Ewe’s statement manually.

“The problem is on page seven, which was typed and printed. Then there was the witness’ signature down there. How do you explain this? Unless the last part of the document is fabricated,” Gobind said.

ASP Mohd Nazri told the court that he had recorded Ewe’s statement four times on July 3, 8 and 9 last year and on Aug 14 this year.

Gobind argued that the Aug 14 statement was contradicting earlier statements that purportedly “exonerated” Lim.

He said ASP Mohd Nazri’s answers had shown that not everything asked and answered were recorded in the statements.

The witness had said he knew Ewe’s additional statement was different from the others made a year before, because Ewe had revealed it to him in a conversation when his statement was being recorded.

Urging the court to not allow all four statements to be admitted as evidence, Gobind said this was because Section 30(8) requires every part of the statement recorded by an MACC officer to be in writing.Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said Ewe’s recorded statements with the MACC should be legally admissible as evidence as all prerequisites had been fulfilled under the provisions of Section 54 of the MACC Act.

He also said Gobind had failed to challenge the part of the statements where Ewe had certified that he was not coerced into giving the statements.

Judge Azura Alwi will decide on Dec 13 when the trial continues.

Lim, 60, is facing four corruption charges involving the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.

For the first amended charge, the Bagan MP, who is also former finance minister, is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkefli’s company secure the project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.

For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company be appointed for the same project.

Lim is charged with committing the offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here, in March 2011, between 12.30am and 2am.

Lim is also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land worth RM208.8mil owned by the Penang state government to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project.

The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office in Komtar on Feb 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.

Meanwhile, businessman Foo Jee Hai, 49, the 16th prosecution witness, said he was the one who introduced Ewe to Zarul Ahmad and Lee Chee Hoe, who were representatives of the Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) that was keen to help solve Penang’s traffic congestion problems.

He said he got to know Ewe more than 10 years ago and had kept contact with him on business matters through the years.

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