KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court rejected Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s request to stay the prosecution’s cross-examination of him pending an outcome of an appeal, ruling that the accused would not be prejudiced during the cross-examination.
Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, in his decision on Monday (July 4) said that there were no special circumstances to grant Ahmad Zahid’s application for a stay.
"The accused (Ahmad Zahid) has the liberty to interview the witnesses anytime, some of whom are family members and the prosecution is also committed to assisting him. He is not being denied a fair trial,” the judge said.
The former deputy prime minister had filed the application to stay his defence's proceedings, pending a decision by the Court of Appeal on his appeal to obtain copies of the recorded statements of defence witnesses in his corruption case, involving Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds, from the Malaysian Anti -Corruption Commission (MACC).
The cross-examination of Ahmad Zahid began last Thursday after a few days of him taking the stand to defend himself in the case.
In dismissing the stay application, Judge Sequerah said the court was bound by the precedent case involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak, where the Federal Court had denied him access to the witnesses’ statements he was seeking.
"Following the determinative principle in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s case in the Federal Court which of course binds this court, I find that the applicant (Ahmad Zahid) has failed to meet the required threshold.
"The application is dismissed and the trial process and cross-examination of the accused to continue,” he said.
Judge Sequerah adjourned the trial until Tuesday (June 5), after Ahmad Zahid’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik informed that some of his client’s lawyers were unwell.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor, Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran submitted that continuing the proceedings in the High Court was not prejudicial to the applicant’s right to a fair trial nor would it cause injustice.
She argued that the applicant was never hindered from preparing and proceeding with his defence as the witnesses listed in his affidavit are either known to him or related to him by blood.
"It is more advantageous to the applicant that his case proceeds in the High Court as he will have the earlier opportunity to vindicate himself,” she said.
Raja Rozela further said that Ahmad Zahid was facing very serious charges and the trial involving a former deputy prime minister of the country was being closely watched by the public
"This trial has taken three years and the application is an obvious attempt to delay an early completion of the trial.
"This trial is also of public and national importance and any attempt to impede the progress of the proceedings must be rejected,” she added.
Hisyam countered that the application was not to delay the trial but rather to ensure that his client got a fair trial.
"This case is of public interest and Ahmad Zahid must give full and complete evidence during the main examination before being cross-examined,” he said.
In response to the prosecution’s contention that the trial has taken three years since 2019, Hisyam said the defence could not be blamed for the shutdown imposed due to the movement control order during the Covid-19 outbreak.
On Jan 24, the court ordered Ahmad Zahid to enter his defence against 12 charges of CBT, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to YAB after finding that the prosecution had successfully made out a prima facie case against the accused. - Bernama