Charges ready but Adlan can't be found

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday said it is ready to charge Datuk Seri Muhammad Adlan Berhan — the son-in-law of former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin — for criminal breach of trust.

However, Adlan's absence from the country has thrown a spanner in the works.

Legal experts said the commission could charge Adlan in absentia, which could accelerate the legal process.

They said this was done in 2018, when fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and his father Tan Sri Low Hock Peng were charged in absentia in Malaysia for money-laundering.

Prominent lawyer Datuk Geetham Ram Vincent said by proceeding with prosecution in absentia, the authorities could apply to the court to issue an arrest warrant to compel the person to face the charges.

"Once the charges have been registered, they can then apply for a warrant of arrest," he said, adding that the process of extraditing the accused could begin after this.

Constitutional and legal expert Professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood said charging a person in absentia had its pros and cons.

"Prosecution in absentia, although allowed by the law, also has its disadvantages, especially as the court is not able to assess the person's demeanour in court.

"Having the person present can enable the prosecution to extract more information from the person if he or she is giving evidence in court," he said.

MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki earlier yesterday had confirmed that the commission had completed its investigation of Adlan and were ready to proceed with prosecution.

"The only thing is that he cannot be located. He has yet to return to the country," he told reporters after the 10th Certified Integrity Officers Convocation here.

MACC on Aug 7 last year said they were seeking Adlan and lawyer Mansoor Saat to assist an investigation into corrupt practices in the registration, acquisition and storage of biometric data of foreign workers.

MACC said checks with the Immigration Department showed that Adlan and Mansoor left Malaysia on May 17 and 21 respectively, and had no record of returning to the country.

Adlan, via his counsel, had denied that he was trying to evade the authorities.

On Aug 9 last year, his lawyer, Datuk Dr Baljit Singh Sidhu, said his client had rejected that he was "a fugitive on the run" and denied being uncooperative and uncontactable.

Baljit said Adlan would return to Malaysia "as soon as possible" to answer all questions and to assist the investigation if "elements of threats and persecution are eliminated".

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