(Updated)

High Court allows prosecution to start impeachment bid on Rosmah

Rosmah, who turns 70 in December, had been ordered to enter her defence against three charges in relation to the solar hybrid project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

Rosmah, who turns 70 in December, had been ordered to enter her defence against three charges in relation to the solar hybrid project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 21): The High Court on Thursday (Oct 21) allowed the prosecution to commence impeachment proceedings against Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor over alleged contradictions between her testimony in the ongoing solar hybrid project graft trial and her statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) about her money-laundering case.

Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan allowed the admission of Rosmah's statement, recorded under Section 32 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUA), to be used as evidence to question her regarding her defence testimony.

“I am allowing this application under Section 145 and Section 155(c) of the Evidence Act but the questions should not touch on the facts regarding the money-laundering charges [against Rosmah],” the judge ruled.

The court also allowed the prosecution's application to question Rosmah's character, following revelations from the money laundering charges that she received money from one Roslan Sohari.

“However, this court does not allow questions by the prosecution in relation to the money-laundering charges,” the judge added.

Section 155(c) of the Evidence Act stipulates that “the credit of a witness may be impeached in the following ways by the adverse party or, with the consent of the court, by the party who calls him/her ... by proof of former statements inconsistent with any part of his/her evidence which is liable to be contradicted”.

It is understood that the statement Rosmah made to the MACC was related to the ongoing solar hybrid project graft case.

The prosecution led by senior Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram had made the application, with the defence led by Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader and Datuk Jagjit Singh objecting as the court heard submissions on the matter.

With the decision on Thursday, the prosecution will continue cross-examining the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from Dec 8 to 10, which have been fixed as the next trial dates.

Rosmah, who turns 70 in December, had been ordered to enter her defence against three charges in relation to the solar hybrid project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

She has claimed trial to a charge of soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe in return for helping Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to obtain a contract for the project worth RM1.25 billion.

She also faces two other charges of receiving a total of RM6.5 million — RM5 million and RM1.5 million — at the prime minister's official residence in Putrajaya and her private residence in Jalan Langgak Duta between 2016 and 2017.

She also faces 17 counts of money laundering and tax evasion charges worth RM7.09 million, the trial of which has yet to commence.

Earlier, Akberdin and Jagjit opposed the application by the prosecution, questioning how Rosmah's cautioned statement, which is intended for another trial, could be used to question her in this particular trial.

Akberdin further argued that Section 32 of AMLATFPUA did not mention anything about instituting impeachment proceedings.

He added that the use of cautioned statements in a trial had been outdated since the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code in 2007, and hence the application should be dismissed.

A cautioned statement under Section 113 of the Criminal Procedure Code is a statement recorded by the questioning authority, such as the police, on a suspect.

In the past, such statements could be used during a trial, but after the amendment to the Code, they now cannot be used in court.

Sri Ram, who appeared with DPPs Ahmad Akram Gharib and Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam, argued that a witness may be confronted with and contradicted by his or her previous inconsistent statement in writing as stipulated under Section 145 of the Evidence Act, and hence they can be impeached under Section 155(c) of the same Act.

“Section 145 contemplates that a witness may be cross-examined with his or her previous statement, if any, such a statement in the nature of the first information report recorded during investigation or such a statement of the witness recorded in a criminal or civil case,” he added.

Lam Jian Wyn