Appeals court acquits, discharges former UPSI vice-chancellor of power abuse

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here on Thursday acquitted and discharged former Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Zakaria Kasa of abusing his power by including his son’s name in a list of job interviewees at the university, 10 years ago.

The three-judge panel, led by Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, overturned Zakaria's conviction and sentence of 18 months' imprisonment and a RM10,000 fine imposed by the Ipoh High Court on June 2, 2023, after allowing his appeal.

Judge Hadhariah, in a unanimous decision, said the court found the evidence presented did not satisfy the criteria of the charge under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.

"The appellant, Zakaria, was accused of including his son, Mohd Fauzi Zakaria (PW9), for an interview. However, testimonies from the fourth and fifth prosecution witnesses revealed that PW9 had applied online and was eligible for the interview.

"PW4 and PW5 affirmed that they were not influenced by the appellant in selecting PW9 for the interview. Consequently, based on their testimonies, the court deemed the appellant's conviction unsafe.

"As such, the High Court judge's verdict and sentencing are overturned, and the appellant is acquitted and discharged," said Judge Hadhariah who presided with Datuk Azman Abdullah and Datuk Azmi Ariffin.

Zakaria, 67, who was then UPSI vice-chancellor was charged with using his position by directing Mohd Faizi Othman, the registrar of UPSI, to include his son, Mohd Fauzi, for an interview on Sept 12, 2014.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Chancellery Building at UPSI, in Tanjung Malim, between June 24 and Sept 12, 2014.

The charge framed under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 and punishable under Section 24, carries a maximum imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of either five times the value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

On Dec 3, 2019, the Ipoh Sessions Court acquitted and discharged Zakaria, ruling that the prosecution had not established a prima facie case against him at the end of their case.

The prosecution appealed the decision at the Ipoh High Court, which on June 2, 2023, overturned the previous ruling and sentenced Zakaria to 18 months' imprisonment and a fine of RM10,000.

Thursday's proceeding was also attended by Zakaria's legal team, including Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud, Shahidah Muslimah Roslan, Hasshahari Johari Mawi, Mohd Radzlan Jalaludin and Muhamad Hafizan Shafuan Kamarulzaman, while the prosecution was represented by Deputy Public Prosecutors Atiqah Abdul Karim and Maziyah Mansor.

Earlier, Awang Armadajaya argued that the credibility of the first prosecution witness (UPSI registrar) was questionable as his testimony contradicted that of the fourth and fifth prosecution witnesses.

The lawyer argued that his client's instruction to the UPSI registrar to "take a look" did not constitute an offence under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.

Atiqah argued that the appellant's son's name was included in the interview list at the appellant's request and both the appellant and PW1 were aware that the appellant's son did not pass the initial screening and was ineligible for an interview. - Bernama

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Court , Abuse , Power , Interview , UPSI , Vice-Chancellor , Acquitted


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