Guan Eng trial: Court dismisses prosecution's preliminary objection
KUALA LUMPUR - The Sessions Court today dismissed the prosecution's preliminary objection to the defence’s application to obtain a forensic report of a WhatsApp conversation between two businessmen, in a corruption case involving former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Judge Azura Alwi made the ruling after hearing the arguments of Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shahruddin Wan Ladin and Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo.
The court set March 23 to hear the defence application filed under Section 51 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The forensic report involved WhatsApp exchanges between businessman G. Gnanaraja and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) company director, Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli about the gifting of 'RM2 million chocolate’ allegedly given to Lim as a bribe.
The exchanges were previously revealed through the testimony of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) forensic investigating officer Assistant Superintendent Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof.
Earlier, Wan Shaharuddin questioned the application for the forensic report given that the prosecution witnesses, Zarul Ahmad and two officers from CZCSB, Azli Adam and Ibrahim Sahari have yet to finish giving their testimonies.
"Azli is still being cross-examined halfway by the defence while Zarul is still being cross-examined about the RM19 million paid to Gnanaraja, which Zarul admitted he did indeed pay. Until now they have not touched on the main issue and the case. Therefore, the preliminary objection should be allowed," he said.
Meanwhile, the situation in the courtroom became tense when Gobind objected to Wan Shahruddin's argument, claiming that the prosecution tried to hide evidence that he claimed was in favour of his client.
Wan Shaharuddin criticised the way the defence is handling the case, describing it as dramatic before he was reprimanded by Azura.
Dissatisfied with Wan Shaharuddin's allegation, Gobind asked: "Is this the practice and standard of the deputy public prosecutors we have now? The Bar Association needs to reprimand them to put a stop to things like these".
Wan Shaharuddin however said the purpose of the defence requesting the forensic report was to humiliate and threaten the prosecution.
Gobind objected to the statement saying that the defence had never threatened any party throughout the case and reiterated that Wan Shaharuddin as a court officer should not hide evidence.
The situation was defused after Azura ordered them to stop arguing.
Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as the Penang Chief Minister to accept a bribe of RM3.3 million in helping a company owned by Zarul Ahmad to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702 at the Office of the Chief Minister of Penang, 28th Floor, Komtar, George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.
For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe from Zarul Ahmad, namely 10 per cent of the company’s profits, as an inducement for obtaining the project and is accused of committing the act near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.
Lim also faces two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million owned by the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies allegedly linked to the undersea tunnel project. - BERNAMA