Zahid’s trial vacated tomorrow amid Cabinet meeting; 20 more witnesses to go

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial over alleged corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust will not be proceeding tomorrow as scheduled previously, but will continue this Thursday instead.

Tomorrow will be the Cabinet’s weekly meeting, and Zahid’s lawyers had yesterday asked the court if tomorrow’s trial date could be vacated since he would have to attend the Cabinet meeting in the morning and a post-Cabinet meeting in the afternoon.

Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah yesterday said that the lawyers would have to provide a replacement date to make up for the lost day of hearing.

At the end of today’s court proceedings in the trial, Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh informed the judge that both the defence and prosecution were able to agree to a common date where they would be available for the trial.

“Parties have come to a common date to replace tomorrow as per our request, October 31,” Hamidi said.

The judge then said the trial will resume this Thursday, and asked how many more defence witnesses would be called to testify in Zahid’s favour in this trial.

Hamidi replied that Zahid has a line-up of 32 defence witnesses and since 12 of them — including Zahid — has testified, there will be another 20 more defence witnesses to be called.

Hamidi said the defence expects to call two witnesses this Thursday.

Apart from this Thursday and tomorrow’s replacement date of October 31, the High Court has previously already scheduled 23 hearing dates for this trial: September 4 to 7, November 1, November 17, November 20 to 24, November 27 to 29, December 4 to 7 and December 11 to 15.

Zahid, who is also Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, is facing 47 charges in this trial.

The 47 charges are namely, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to over RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges of over RM21.25 million in alleged bribes.

At the end of the trial’s proceedings today, Sequerah reminded members of the public who were sitting inside the courtroom to be respectful.

“I have occasion during the 1MDB trial to remind members of the public to treat these proceedings seriously. I made a comment, it came out in the press, I don’t want to repeat myself.

“This is a court of law, this is not a place where you come and gain amusement and laugh, so treat court proceedings with a bit of respect. I hope I don’t have to repeat this over and over again,” the judge said.

Hamidi, who was then addressing the High Court about the replacement date for tomorrow, then said: “Our sincerest apologies, we will remind members of the public not to do that.”

Earlier, the 12th defence witness, Azharizan Yaacob who is the principal of the Maahad Tahfiz Al Quran Hamidiyah in Bagan Datuk, Perak had said that Zahid had sponsored him to study for a master of education management in Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Laughter was heard in the courtroom when Azharizan disclosed that he did not actually obtain the master’s degree as he did not complete the studies.

Exactly one week ago, Sequerah issued a stern reminder during former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, telling the public that this is a court of law and not some “comedy sketch” and that they should not laugh even if they may find court proceedings to be a bit humorous.

“So, to observe court protocol, please refrain from laughing out loud. Because if I decide to take action, I don’t think it will be a laughing matter,” the judge had said then.

According to the Malaysian judiciary’s website, those who attend open court proceedings are required to observe court etiquette such as dressing appropriately, being silent and giving their full attention, and are not allowed to make any audio or visual recordings.