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‘Stop the personal attacks’

Publish date: Fri, 24 Mar 2023, 09:13 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: The deputy public prosecutor in the corruption trial of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has told the defence team not to launch personal attacks against the prosecuting side.

DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib, in his objection against the defence’s application for a forensic report from the Shah Alam Sessions Court to be used in the ongoing Penang undersea tunnel trial, said that the defence had repeatedly accused the prosecution of “suppressing evidence” from the court.

“There have been many times when the defence resorted to using personal attacks against DPP Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin and the entire team.

“Don’t make it a personal attack against the DPP and the team. We are officers of the court. Let’s go on facts and evidence laid in court and not simply accuse.

“We are just here to do our jobs, nothing more. And our salaries are still the same,” he said at the Sessions Court here yesterday.

During the trial before judge Azura Alwi, Ahmad Akram said it was “frivolous” as there was no need for them to adduce the documents as the witnesses involved would be called to the stand to testify.

“They can also be cross-examined further if need be, because they are here.

“So there is no necessity for the defence to have the documents admitted in court,” he said.

He also said that the defence had several times in their arguments referred to the WhatsApp messages between Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and businessman G. Gnanaraja over a RM2mil payment, described as “chocolate” meant for the “big boss”.

“They already have it and they do not deny it, so this made the application frivolous and an abuse of the court process,” he added.

Gnanaraja was charged in 2019 with cheating Zarul Ahmad of RM19mil.

However, he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge under the Companies Act in December 2020 and was fined RM230,000, while the investigation paper on the cheating case was classified as no further action (NFA).

Zarul Ahmad is currently on the witness stand, while Gnanaraja’s name is also on the prosecution witness list in the ongoing trial.

Another DPP, Law Chin How, also weighed in and refuted the defence’s claim of “political persecution” against its client, saying that this must all be supported by evidence.

“They must prove it during court examinations. Otherwise, it’s baseless and irrelevant,” he said.

Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo contended that the case was a “fix-up” against his client, as the prosecution never informed the court that their witnesses gave evidence in the Shah Alam case.

“They conveniently concealed it from the defence. But how dare they conceal it from the court? This is a farce,” he said, adding that Zarul Ahmad and other witnesses had testified in Shah Alam that the RM2mil was for somebody else and not for Lim.

Gobind also said the defence only has part of the WhatsApp conversation, which is in the forensic report from the Shah Alam court.

He said it was important to admit the forensic report so the defence has all the information to conduct a proper cross-examination on Zarul Ahmad and other witnesses.

“Zarul Ahmad has said before that he no longer has the messages, and that he can’t remember certain things that were said then.

“That’s why we put forward what we have and applied for the report,” he said, adding that witnesses are still entitled to come and present their testimonials in court later.

Reiterating that he was not asking for an unrelated report to be admitted, Gobind said the court should look at whether what the defence wants to produce is necessary or desirable.

“The fundamental fact of the case is that the report was already here before the court, but it was not complete, according to a witness.

“The witness also said he had the report. That is why I asked for the report,” he said, adding that he had to show the case in order to show the relevance.

Azura then set April 5 to deliver the decision for the defence’s application.

Lim, 62, is facing an amended charge of using his position as then Penang chief minister to solicit RM3.3mil 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.

Lim allegedly committed the offence at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.

In the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe of 10% of the profit from the company as gratification to secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.

Lim, who is former DAP secretary-general, faces another two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8mil, belonging to the Penang government, to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.

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