KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 — The defence team in Lim Guan Eng's corruption trial today claimed evidence was being suppressed when investigators shredded printouts of WhatsApp messages between a key prosecution witness and businessman G. Gnanaraja used in a separate hearing.
Defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo made the assertion after deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin informed the Sessions Court of the documents' current whereabouts.
Earlier, Wan Shaharuddin said document destruction is part of the standard operating procedure following the conclusion of a case to prevent further misuse by irresponsible quarters.
Gobind previously applied for the WhatsApp messages to be supplied to the defence as the exchange between Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and Gnanaraja was critical to disproving Lim's alleged corrupt involvement in the Penang undersea tunnel project.
Today, Gobind said the act of destroying the printouts was akin to suppressing evidence from the defence.
"We are taking the stance that there is a suppression of evidence. This evidence is important for us to understand the incident which brings us to the RM19 million purported payment made which is directly related to this case," the lawyer said.
The lawyer then asked the prosecution to produce Gnanaraja's mobile phone to court where the WhatsApp messages were stored, which the prosecution objected to.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib contended that the WhatsApp messages were irrelevant to Lim’s corruption charges, adding that Gnanaraja himself will be called in to testify as a witness after Zarul Ahmad.
“We will call Gnanaraja after Datuk Zarul Ahmad. They (lawyers) can cross-examine him on the WhatsApp messages as to whether there was a conspiracy or otherwise.
“The chats were not part of the prosecution’s case against YB (Lim). We are not obliged to serve these documents under Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said.
The court had been told previously that Gnanaraja’s phone could not be switched on.
Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister back then to receive a bribe of RM3.3 million in helping the company owned by Zarul Ahmad to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office on the 28th floor of Komtar, George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.
For the second amended charge, Lim is alleged to solicit from Zarul Ahmad, 10 per cent of the profit to be gained by the company in appreciation of obtaining the project.
Lim is accused of committing this offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur, in March 2011.
The DAP politician who is both Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman is also facing two other charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies claimed to be connected to the undersea tunnel project.
He was charged with committing the offences at the Penang Land and Mines Department on the 21st floor of Komtar on February 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.