High Court acquits Baling MP’s brother of abetment charges

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Abdul Latif Abdul Rahim has been granted a full acquittal by the High Court from two charges of abetting his younger brother, Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez, relating to allegations of bribery involving highway construction projects and road upgrades in Perak and Kedah.

In his decision, Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah said the court was empowered under Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code to exercise its discretionary power regarding a discharge amounting to an acquittal.

“The trend of cases showed that unless there are good reasons given, the order granted should be a discharge amounting to an acquittal,” he said here on Wednesday (Jan 19).

The respondents, Justice Sequerah said, had cited two reasons why the applicant should not be granted a full acquittal – that the applicant would be a prosecution witness in Abdul Azeez’s case and that if there were any developments in the evidence given, the case against the applicant would resume.

“The reason that the applicant is to be a witness against the other accused will open the possibility of the applicant being effectively held to ransom to testify favourably to the prosecution,” he said.

Justice Sequerah said such a situation would open the possibility of Abdul Latif’s evidence being attacked and subsequently be regarded as “tainted”.

As for the possibility of the case against Abdul Latif resuming, Justice Sequerah said there was nothing forthcoming to show that the prosecution will proceed with the case definitively, and this was akin to the applicant having an indefinite future.

Both reasons, according to the judge, were not proper reasons to grant a discharge not amounting to an acquittal against the applicant.

“This revision is allowed. The order of the learned Sessions Court judge is hereby set aside.

“The order is for the applicant to be given a discharge amounting to an acquittal,” he said.

On Feb 8, last year, a Sessions Court here granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal to Abdul Latif following an application by the prosecution to drop the case against him by making him a prosecution witness.

In September, last year, Abdul Latif filed a revision application against the Sessions Court’s decision.

Abdul Azeez, 55, who is also the former Tabung Haji chairman, is charged with three counts of accepting bribes totalling RM5.2mil in connection with road projects in Perak and Kedah as well as 10 counts of money laundering.

He is accused of committing the offence at CIMB Bank, Jalan Tun Perak in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 8, 2010, and at Affin Bank, Pusat Bandar Puchong in Selangor on June 13, 2017, and April 10, 2018, while the money laundering offences were allegedly committed in the Klang Valley area between March 8, 2010, and Aug 30, 2018.

His brother, Abdul Latif, 64, is accused of abetting his brother to obtain a RM4mil bribe from Mohammad Redzuan Mohanan Abdullah as gratification to help Syarikat Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd secure road projects through limited tender from the Works Ministry.

The project involved the Pantai Baru Coastal Expressway Project, upgrading works of Federal Road FT005 (Teluk Intan to Kampung Lekir, Perak) valued at RM644,480,000.

He is accused of committing both offences at Affin Bank, Pusat Bandar Puchong in Selangor on June 13, 2017, and April 10, 2018.

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