Judge pauses Guan Eng’s trial on proposed Penang undersea tunnel pending notes from another court case

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The trial of Lim Guan Eng for the Penang undersea tunnel project at the Sessions Court here has been suspended today so that the defence can get notes from a separate court proceeding that could exonerate the former chief minister of purportedly receiving RM2 million in bribes.

Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo told the court that the defence had filed an application to get the notes of proceedings from another Sessions Court in Shah Alam, Selangor on February 9 which was still pending.

He said the notes of proceedings were needed for part of the defence's preparation to submit on today's hearing fixed on adducing further evidence from another trial in the ongoing hearing.

He further explained to the court on the defence initially obtaining a copy of the Court Recording and Transcription (CRT) involving witness testimonies from the Shah Alam case and transcribed their own, but this had been subsequently disputed by the prosecution.

“If my learned friend is objecting on technical grounds then I have to ask for this case to be adjourned for the defence to get the note of proceedings,” he said.

The evidence the defence is seeking to submit in the Penang undersea tunnel trial includes a transcript report of the full WhatsApp messages between two prosecution witnesses — Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and G. Gnanaraja.

In Shah Alam, Gnanaraja was charged with allegedly deceiving Zarul Ahmad over RM19 million – of which the RM2 million is part of it — into believing that he could help the latter close the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation linked to the same undersea project.

Gnanaraja later pleaded guilty to the alternative charge under the Companies Act and imposed a fine of RM230,000.

Previously Gobind told the court the WhatsApp conversation between Zarul Ahmad and businessman Gnanaraja on August 17, 2017 clearly showed how “chocolates” (RM2 million cash bribes) were to be paid to one “big boss”, which the lawyer said was not Lim as alleged.

The defence had previously contended the report of WhatsApp messages submitted by the prosecution as evidence was truncated and not in full as only messages after August 18, 2017 were produced.

Today, Gobind once again reiterated the defence's stance, claiming there was 'abuse of power through suppression of evidence by the prosecution', further noting the necessity of having the notes of proceedings from the other court as proof.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said the prosecution has no objection to having the hearing adjourned for additional affidavits to be filed.

After hearing submissions, Session Court judge Azura Alwi later fixed March 1 for parties to update the court.

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.