Zahid claims trial again after prosecution amends his CBT, corruption charges

Zahid claims trial again after prosecution amends his CBT, corruption charges
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The CBT charges involved RM31 million in funds from Yayasan Akalbudi while the corruption charges involved RM6 million in bribes.

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 10): Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi once again claimed trial to 12 counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and two counts of corruption after minor amendments were made to the charges by the prosecution in the High Court today. 

The CBT charges involved RM31 million in funds from Yayasan Akalbudi while the corruption charges involved RM6 million in bribes.

The amended charges were read aloud to the former deputy prime minister and he pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges. 

In applying to amend the charges, Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran noted that the prosecution is allowed to amend charges at any stage before the close of its case, as provided for under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed the application, and also allowed Zahid’s defence team to recall prosecution witnesses for cross-examination if necessary. 

The amendment in relation to the 12 CBT charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code involves replacing the phrase “entrusted with property” belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi to “entrusted with dominion over property”, which in fact was the original phrase used when the charges were first read out to him in the Sessions Court. 

Raja Rozela explained to the judge that the charges had been inadvertently reframed when it was transferred from to the High Court, and that the missing phrase was only noticed by the prosecution recently. 

As for the two corruption charges, the prosecution sought to change the words “additional supply” to “supply” in the charge sheet, where Zahid is said to have received RM5 million and RM1 million from Data Sonic Group Bhd director Chew Ben Ben.

The contract was for the government’s procurement of the supply of 12.5 million passport chips over a five-year period. 

Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had objected to the prosecution’s application, arguing that the amendments are coming “late in the day”.

Hisyam then asked for some time to confer with his client on whether to recall any witnesses as they “were taken by surprise” by the prosecution, who only informed them this morning of the changes. 

Thus far, 85 prosecution witnesses have taken the stand in the trial with 85th prosecution witness V Sothilechmy completing her testimony this morning. 

Besides the 14 charges, Zahid, 67, also faces another 33 charges — six for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving his charitable trust Yayasan Akalbudi.

The trial continues tomorrow with a new witness set to take the stand.