Ahmad Zahid will either be freed from graft charges or called to enter defence


KLANG: Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will know today if he will be asked to enter defence for the graft allegations related to the Foreign Visa System (VLN) case.

If Shah Alam High Court judge Justice Mohd Yazid Mustafa decides that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Ahmad Zahid, and he does not need to call for his defence, the Umno president will walk away a free man.

ALSO READ: UKSB graft trial: Why single out Zahid? Other political figures also received funding, says defence

Ahmad Zahid, 69, is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes, in his capacity as the then Home Minister, from a company Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) in order to extend the company’s contract to continue operating the one-stop centre in China and the VLN.

The Bagan Datuk MP was slapped with an additional seven charges for allegedly obtaining for himself S$1.15mil, RM3mil, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000.

He had allegedly committed the crime between October 2014 and March 2018 at his home in Country Heights, Kajang, and the deputy prime minister’s official residence in Putrajaya.

The prosecution rested its case on Aug 11 after calling 18 witnesses, including UKSB directors VK Lee, Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani and David Tan Siong Sun, and tendering in 107 exhibits.

ALSO READ: Money given to Zahid was a political donation, no corruption involved, witness tells court

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, led the prosecution team and was assisted by Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Abdul Malik Ayob, Zander Lim Wai Keong and B. Thavani; whilst Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal and Hamidi Mohd Noh appeared for Ahmad Zahid.

In countering the prosecution’s case, Ahmad Zahid’s defence team had argued that the funds were in actual fact political donations from the company.

Hisyam had also stated that Ahmad Zahid was being subjugated to selectively and politically motivated prosecution.

He queried as to why several others who had also received funds from UKSB were not being dragged to court.

During cross-examination, UKSB’s Lee and Tan had testified that the monies given to Ahmad Zahid were meant for political funding.

They had also testified that others who had received political funding from their company included former prime ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, among others.

Meanwhile, Raja Rozela told the court that Ahmad Zahid, as a public servant, had no business securing funds under the pretext that it was meant for political funding.

She had said if it was indeed a donation, it may be a one-off payment and not a regular pay off which was akin to “putting money into a piggy bank”.

Raja Rozela had also stated that the law did not recognise political donations and hence politicians receiving money and calling it political donations were making a mockery of the law.

Ahmad Zahid is charged under Section 16 (a) (B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000 whichever is higher.

He is also facing 33 alternative charges under Section 165 of the Penal Code.

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