Crime & Courts

Sabah Water Department corruption trial adjourned to Jan 22 and 24 next year

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Water Department corruption trial has been adjourned to Jan 22 and 24 next year.

Sessions Court judge Abu Bakar Manat fixed the new dates after the statement of an important witness did not fulfill the 14-day requirement under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

On trial were ex-Sabah Water Department director Ag Mohd Tahir, 59, his wife Fauziah Piut, 57, and former deputy director Lim Lam Beng, 66.

They were jointly tried with 37 counts of money laundering involving cash and bank savings amounting to RM61.57 million, as well as unlawful possession of luxury goods between October and November 2016.

Earlier, when the trial resumed in open court, deputy public prosecutor Mahadi Jumaat told the court that they were ready to proceed with the 45th new witness, namely the Investigating Officer (IO) of this case.

Counsel Datuk Tan Hock Chuan who represented Lim raised an objection saying that the witness statement of the IO was not in compliance with Section 402B(2) (c) of the CPC.

Under the section, a copy of the statement is served, by or on behalf of the party proposing to tender it, on each of the other parties to the proceedings not later than 14 days before the commencement of the trial unless the parties otherwise agree.

Tan said they only received the first witness statement on Dec 1, 2023 and the second witness statement on Dec 4, 2023.

"Since this is an important witness, we can't agree for the witness statement to be used for today's hearing," said Tan.

The prosecution then submitted that the 45th witness was ready to testify verbally to avoid further delay.

"We understand that this case has dragged on for more than seven years and we are almost at the end of the prosecution's stage with two more witnesses, namely the investigating officers in this case.

"Our witness today is willing to give evidence verbally," he said.

In his decision, the judge among others said that the adjournment was to enable the witness statement to meet the requirement of 14 days as provided under Section 402B(2) (c) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

It was also to save time for all parties because if the 45th witness's testimony is given verbally it will take a long time.

"This is also to enable the defence counsels to prepare questions to the witness," he said while reminding parties to be prepared for the next hearing so that no more issues were raised that could further delay the hearing of the case.

DPP Haresh Prakash Somiah and Zander Lim also conducted the trial.

Counsel Priskila Sinem and Mohammed Fareez Mohammed Salleh represented Ag Tahir and Fauziah.

Lim was also represented by counsels Baldev Singh, Karpaljit Singh and Calvin Wong.

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