In Guan Eng’s Penang undersea tunnel trial, prosecution and defence argue merits of adducing new evidence

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The ongoing trial of DAP politician Lim Guan Eng at the Sessions Court here this morning saw a quieter exchange between the defence and prosecution compared to what transpired last week.

Today, the court heard the defence’s bid to obtain documents from a separate court case that could clear the former Penang chief minister of purportedly receiving RM2 million in bribes.

In a more muted affair, lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said the manoeuvre by the prosecution in the current trial to conceal said documents was highly reprehensible and a “contempt of the highest nature”.

“Not only they are not providing the documents, they didn’t tell us about them and now they are objecting to us producing in court.

“What does it tell us about a bona fide prosecution?” he said.

Citing Section 51(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, Gobind said the prosecution was duty-bound to provide the defence with a written statement of facts favourable to the defence prior to the commencement of the trial and the latter afforded reasonable time to examine them.

However, the lawyer stated this was not the case in terms of the evidence sought by the defence which includes a full transcript of the WhatsApp messages between two prosecution witnesses — Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and G. Gnanaraja.

According to the defence, the full transcript was tendered as evidence in a separate court trial in Shah Alam but had previously contended that the defence was only provided a truncated version of said document in this trial.

Gobind said the evidence and witnesses tendered in the Shah Alam trial, albeit for a different charge where Gnanaraja stood accused of cheating Zarul Ahmad in the sum of RM2 million, were exactly the same.

“The prosecution is well-aware of what happened in Shah Alam but now they are resisting this application.

“The prosecutor is the same, the charge is the same, the money is the same, the witnesses are same, the cheque (for the money) is same, and we have to come here and apply to ask the court for permission so we can produce these documents.

“Yang Arif, I am interest in getting to the truth of it. They are putting evidence before Yang Arif which is not right, and they know it.

“If I didn’t come across all this, we would have put somebody in (prison) on evidence that is false. This court must tell them to stop it.

“They conveniently conceal that evidence from the court — yes, they may conceal it from the defence — but they dare conceal it before the court,” he said.

In his rebuttal, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said any questions pertaining to the WhatsApp conversation between Zarul Ahmad and Gnanaraja could be directed to both witnesses when they are called to testify.

Zarul Ahmad is currently on the stand as the 23rd prosecution witness and is under cross-examination.

Gnanaraja, on the other hand, has yet to testify but the prosecution has indicated he will be called.

“This is a frivolous application and an abuse of the court process. There is no necessity for the documents to be produced since both will be called and crossed,” Ahmad Akram said.

Ahmad Akram also pleaded with the defence to cease all personal attacks against the prosecution as they were merely duty-bound as officers of the court.

“Let’s go on the facts and let’s go on the evidence made before the court. Not come here and simply say (about suppressing evidence) as we all know this trial attracts media and public attention.

“If they (attacks on us) are reported, it is exhausting for us to keep on responding whereas we are just here to do our job. I myself have no vested interests either,” he added.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said the defence’s claim that the testimony of the prosecution’s eight witnesses and MACC forensics department investigation officer Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof could exonerate the accused was only partial, since the accused is facing charges over soliciting RM3.3 million in bribes and not just RM2 million.

“Has the respondent forgotten about the remaining RM1.3 million and has he forgotten about his three remaining charges?” Wan Shahruddin asked.

He also called to question the defence’s “precise” cross-examination of Wan Mohd Firdaus on the truncated WhatsApp conversation in a forensic report prepared by the latter which meant the defence already had prior possession of it — which is considered classified — despite not having produced it in both court proceedings.

Wan Shaharuddin said the forensic report was never tendered as a statement to court and only two parties were in possession of the document — the prosecution and Gnanaraja’s counsel, the late Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

After submissions by parties, Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi fixed April 5 to deliver her decision.

Lim, 61, is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister to solicit RM3.3 million 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.

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

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