Defence applies for copy of witness statement in Penang undersea tunnel case

KUALA LUMPUR: The defence has applied for a copy of the main witness' statement recorded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection to the investigation of a corruption case involving former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and a businessman.

Lim's lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, said the document was needed to initiate the proceeding of challenging the credibility of the witness, namely the director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli as there were conflicting statements in his testimony in court.

"The defence has a right to question Datuk Zarul with regard to the alleged RM2mil each given to Lim Guan Eng and Datuk Seri Najib Razak through G. Gnanaraja as a middleman in 2017.

"In the prior proceedings Datuk Zarul said it was RM2mil for only Lim Guan Eng, so there is a serious conflict in his testimony and therefore we apply to challenge his credibility under Section 145 of the Evidence Act 1950," said Gobind on Tuesday (Oct 24).

Gobind said, that while testifying to MACC in Gnanaraja's case in the Shah Alam Sessions Court, Zarul stated that the RM2mil given to the businessman was to stop the MACC case against his company.

On Monday (Oct 23), Zarul told the court that a cheque for RM2mil was given to Lim in connection with the undersea tunnel and main roads project in Penang, while RM2mil in cash was given to Najib to stop MACC's investigation on his company.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin objected to the application saying it was not done according to procedure, had no basis and was merely an attempt to fish for information from Zarul's statement, adding that the defence can cross-examine the witness to obtain the information instead.

"The application is premature at this stage and is only based on Datuk Zarul's testimony that he had made a correction in his statement to MACC.

"The defence actually wants to scrutinise the statement to see if the correction has been made, not to start a proceeding to challenge his credibility," said Wan Shaharuddin.

Meanwhile, DPP Mahadi Abdul Jumaat submitted that the application should be denied on the basis that the statement is classified as a privileged document under the Evidence Act.

After hearing submissions from both parties, Judge Azura Alwi fixed Nov 2 for a decision on the application, while adjourning the proceedings for on Wednesday (Oct 25) and Nov 1.

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

On the first charge, Lim is alleged to have abused his power as then Penang Chief Minister to obtain RM3.3mil in monetary gratification as an inducement to appoint Zarul's company to implement the RM6,341,383,702 undersea tunnel project and construction of main roads in the state.

He is alleged to have committed the offence between January 2011 and August 2017.

On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of asking Zarul for 10% of profits as a reward for helping his company secure the projects. Lim is alleged to have committed the offence at The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here, between 12.30am and 2am on March 2011.

He is also facing two other charges for dishonestly disposing of two plots of land belonging to the Penang government in Bandar Tanjong Pinang worth RM208mil to the developer of the undersea tunnel project, which was allegedly committed at the State Land and Mines Office in Komtar on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017. – Bernama

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