Tempers flare during Lim’s trial - Prosecution and defence told to stop fighting after getting into war of words

KUALA LUMPUR: A war of words erupted and the deputy public prosecutor was reprimanded for his behaviour during Lim Guan Eng’s Penang undersea tunnel corruption trial in the Sessions Court here yesterday.

During a heated argument, Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin was chided in court after he clapped his hands several times and sarcastically commended the defence for “a very good drama”.

The arguments started after judge Azura Alwi rejected a preliminary objection filed by Wan Shaharuddin over the defence’s application to adduce a forensic report from another court case as an affidavit.

Insisting that the report was irrelevant to the facts of the present case, Wan Shaharuddin argued that the defence application was an attempt to disrupt the court’s decision-making process to reach a premature verdict.

He also said he would not submit further on the matter as it would touch on the merits of the application.

The report contains WhatsApp messages between two key witnesses in Lim’s trial.

The defence filed an application to obtain the notes of proceedings of the case in the Shah Alam Sessions Court involving businessman G. Gnanaraja and a RM2mil payment.

Gnanaraja was charged in 2019 with cheating Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli of RM19mil.

However, Gnanaraja pleaded guilty to an alternative charge under the Companies Act in December 2020 and was fined RM230,000.

Zarul Ahmad is currently on the witness stand, while Gnanaraja’s name is also on the prosecution witness list in the ongoing trial.

Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo said the prosecution and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) were clearly fearful of his application, which would reveal that they have suppressed evidence from the court.

Reminding the prosecution not to abuse the court process, he said the defence had done what the prosecution asked, which was to file an application to adduce the forensic report.

Gobind also informed the court that the defence was not ready to proceed with hearing the merits of the application, as the certified true copy of the report was without a date.

He said his colleague had gone to the Shah Alam court to sort out the matter, and the report can be admitted at the latest by the coming Monday.

Azura then dismissed the prosecution’s preliminary objection and instructed the parties to argue on the merits of the defence’s bid to obtain the report from the Shah Alam court.

However, Wan Shaharuddin changed his earlier stand and said the prosecution was ready to proceed with hearing the merits of the application.

Wan Shaharuddin: I want to go on merit now.

Gobind: My friend has just said we cannot do it because the notes are not there ... You cannot blow hot and cold.

Azura: It’s not here (the report), right?

Wan Shaharuddin: Okay, then let me reply (on the application).

Just before he continued, Wan Shaharuddin suddenly clapped his hands several times.

Wan Shaharuddin: I clap my hands. This is a very good drama. Better than ...

Gobind: Is this what happened? This is the standard of our DPP nowadays. We need members of the Bar to tell them to stop this nonsense. This rubbish must stop. I have documents to show they suppressed evidence. Instead of coming here ...

Azura then interjected and told Gobind to stop, and reprimanded Wan Shaharuddin.

Azura: DPP, I reprimand you for that clap. It’s not necessary. Please, we are in court.

Wan Shaharuddin then went on and said the defence’s argument was to “humiliate” and “threaten” the prosecution.

“This is the standard of lawyers we have today,” he said.

This prompted Gobind to stand up and move an application to cite Wan Shaharuddin for contempt.

Gobind: Do not come and threaten me in court. I did not threaten. I filed an application that you asked for, I did it. How is this a threat? Where is the threat?

Wan Shaharuddin: You said earlier that there would be a suit. A suit against whom? Must be the prosecution, right? It cannot be against Gnanaraja.

Gobind: Did I say there will be a suit against the prosecution? Why are you afraid of a suit? You are an officer of the court. You must do the right thing, don’t suppress evidence.

This prompted Azura to interject and tell them to stop fighting.

She also said the application to admit the forensic report as an affidavit would be heard first thing in the next hearing.

The trial resumes March 23.

Lim, 62, is facing an amended charge of using his position as then Penang chief minister to solicit RM3.3mil in bribes as an inducement to assist Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG) owner, Zarul Ahmad, to secure the project worth RM6,341,383,702.

Lim allegedly committed the offence at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.

In the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe of 10% of the profit from the company as gratification to secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.

Lim, who is former DAP secretary-general, faces another two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8mil, belonging to the Penang government, to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.

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