KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said he accepts the High Court’s decision to call him to enter his defence against 47 criminal charges.
He told reporters outside the courtroom that his lawyers would carry out his defence according to the legal system.
“Personally, my lawyers and I will abide by the decision that was made by the court as read by the judge, as that is the judge’s absolute right.
“And that does not stop at today. Instead, when the defence is done, my legal team will carry out their duties according to the procedure set by the court. And my team of lawyers will continue the legal case as has been determined by the court just now, and the dates have been fixed and definitely this keakuran (abiding) is based on the existing legal system,” he said briefly before leaving the Kuala Lumpur court complex.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― faces 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.
Earlier today, High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah had ruled that the prosecution had proven the ingredients of all 47 charges and also made out a prima facie case for all these charges, and called on Ahmad Zahid to enter defence on all the charges.
Although the defence stage of Ahmad Zahid’s trial was initially tentatively set to begin on March 28, the High Court today allowed his lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik’s request to be given more time and for his client to begin his defence on April 26 due to the number of charges involved and the number of documents as well.
Hisyam also listed other reasons that would require more time to be given for the defence to prepare. Among them the need to interview defence witnesses, prepare witness statements for the witnesses and the need to serve such witness statements 14 days in advance to the prosecution.
The High Court has fixed 39 days of hearing for the defence stage of Ahmad Zahid’s trial where he will be the first defence witness.
These 39 days are April 26 to 28, May 23 to 26, June 27 to 30, July 4 to 7, August 22 to 23, August 29 to 30, September 19 to 22, September 26 to 29, October 17 to 20, October 31, November 1 to 3, November 7 to 10.
Hisyam also told the court today that the defence is accepting the list of 37 witnesses that the prosecution has offered as defence witnesses, and said Ahmad Zahid’s team will be interviewing all of these witnesses.
According to Hisyam, Ahmad Zahid’s legal team plan to call at least 20 witnesses to testify for the defence.
Hisyam also told the court that the defence intends to ask the prosecution for the statements that were recorded from the defence witnesses during investigations.
But lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran said the prosecution would not give the defence any such statements taken during investigation of witnesses.
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