Crime & Courts

Court of Appeal judge fumes after being forced to postpone Zahid's VLN appeal to Sept 9

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has granted the Attorney-General's Chambers (A-GC) until Sept 9 to decide on Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's request to review the prosecution's appeal against his acquittal in the foreign visa system (VLN) case.

A three-member appellate bench chaired by Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail set the date after the A-GC failed to reach a decision on whether to accept or reject the deputy prime minister's letter of representation today.

Sitting with Hadhariah was Datuk Azman Abdullah and Datuk S.M. Komathy Suppiah.

Earlier, Zahid's lead counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik at the onset of today's proceeding asked for an adjournment pending the decision from the A-GC.

Today was fixed for the court to hear submissions from both parties.

"The first representation was sent in January last year and the second letter was last month.

"I think (it is) most fair to consider very carefully the representation made by the respondent," he said.

Hisyam said his client, who is also the Rural and Regional Development Minister, also has a meeting scheduled for 12pm at his ministry.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Dusuki Mokhtar did not object to the application.

He said the prosecution requires ample time to review the matter thoroughly and to give due consideration to the two representations forwarded to them.

Hadhariah who appeared displeased with the outcome, said she had spent several days examining the entire case, including reading the appeal and the proceedings notes.

"It is really exhausting to read the proceedings notes because they are very voluminous... It ran into thousands of pages.

"I did not touch any other cases... I am indeed focused on understanding the entire case from A to Z.

"I do not want to say more since the prosecution did not object (to the adjournment)," she said.

In September 2022, Zahid, who is Umno president, was freed by the Shah Alam High Court of all 40 charges of receiving bribes from a company to extend its VLN contract.

Zahid had been accused of 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd between 2014 and 2018 as home minister to allow the company to continue their contract for the VLN and a one-stop centre in China.

Zahid was also charged with seven other counts of obtaining S$1.15 million, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 from the same company.

High Court judge Datuk Yazid Mustafa ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the deputy prime minister.

He said witnesses who testified against Zahid were not credible or trustworthy and their testimony could not be relied on.

Subsequently, on Dec 29, the prosecution filed a petition of appeal against the High Court's ruling by listing 15 grounds why the Appellate Court should reverse Zahid's acquittal and order him to enter his defence.

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