High Court dismisses application to delay Isa Samad's graft trial

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 23): The criminal breach of trust and graft trial involving former Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad (pictured) at the High Court here will proceed as scheduled, beginning Oct 7.

This was after High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed the prosecution's application to postpone the trial to another date.

Justice Mohd Nazlan ruled that the reasons stated by the prosecution, led by former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, to delay the trial were truly unnecessary and unjustified, as there are other deputy public prosecutors who can handle Mohd Isa's graft case.

According to the court's record, Mohd Isa was first charged at the Sessions Court in December last year, and the trial date had been fixed five months ago by the High Court, said Justice Mohd Nazlan.

"Now, less than one month before the start of the scheduled trial, prosecution informed this court that Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram has been appointed to lead prosecutor for this case," the judge added.

Justice Mohd Nazlan, however, stressed that the earliest new trial date if allowed will only be scheduled in May next year.

As such, the High Court rejected the prosecution's application to delay the trial.

The trial dates had earlier been fixed for Oct 7 to 9, Oct 14 to 18, and Oct 21 to 25.

Meanwhile, Sri Ram also informed the court that the prosecution will call about 17 witnesses to testify in the case.

Mohd Isa was represented by lawyer Datuk Salehuddin Saidin today.

On Dec 14, 2018, Mohd Isa, 70, pleaded not guilty to one charge of criminal breach of trust for approving a proposal for the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching, Sarawak, for RM160 million without the approval of the Felda board of directors.

He was alleged to have committed the offence at Level 50, Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC near here on April 29, 2014. The charge was framed under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which provides an imprisonment of up to 20 years, whipping and fine, if found guilty.

He was also charged with nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself, in cash totalling RM3.09 million, from Ikhwan Zaidel, who is a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd, through one Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, as gratification for helping to approve the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching, Sarawak, by FIC Sdn Bhd, for RM160 million.

All the offences were allegedly committed at Level 49, Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC near here between July 21, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.

The charges were made under Section 16a(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law, which provides a jail term of not exceeding 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

On April 2, the High Court allowed the defence's application for the transfer of the case from the Sessions Court to High Court.

See also:
Isa Samad to file representation letter, appoints new lawyers
Isa Samad’s graft trial involving Felda’s hotel buy to start on Oct 7
Isa Samad's CBT, graft case transferred to High Court