KUALA LUMPUR: Former Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had to pause for a few seconds before denying that he ever owned a Gulfstream private jet.
The picture of the Gulfstream IV-SP jet with its tail number 1487 was shown in court today but after taking a close look at it Mahdzir denied it belonged to him.
He also pleaded ignorance on who owned the jet between Oct 2011 and Oct 2017 when questioned by lawyer Datuk Jagjit Singh.
However, when asked if he had ever travelled in the plane to places like Alor Star, Kuching, Penang and Macau, Mahdzir said he was not sure.
Mahdzir, who is the fifth prosecution witness in the corruption trial of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, previously denied he had flown to casinos around the world in a private jet.
Meanwhile, after taking Mahdzir through questions concerning the plane, Jagjit and Rosmah's other counsel Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader grilled the Umno vice-president about a letter which was sent to the Attorney General's chambers by lawyer Datuk C Vignesh Kumar.
The letter from Mahdzir's lawyer indicated to the AGC that Mahdzir was ready to co-operate with the authorities and that he was willing to testify against the prime mover of the solar panel project case which has landed Rosmah in court.
"It is our humble view that the proposed evidence would further strengthen the case against the prime mover of this case.
"Our client sincerely hopes that he is given the opportunity to assist the authorities in this matter," the law firm had represented to the AGC in the letter.
However, when asked about this today, Mahdzir said he did not hire any lawyer to broker a deal for him.
He also denied that he was out to fix Rosmah to escape graft charges involving the same project.
Asked who was the prime mover mentioned in the letter, Mahdzir, 60, remained silent.
Pressed if the prime mover referred to Rosmah's former personal assistant Datuk Rizal Mansor or Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsuddin, Mahdzir disagreed it was them.
Later, when re-examined by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, Mahdzir said 'prime mover' and 'proposed evidence' in the letter were words used by his lawyer.
Mahdzir was eventually released from the witness stand today but he will be recalled for another round of re-examination by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on Monday.
Rosmah is facing three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes to secure the solar hybrid project worth RM1.25 billion for Jepak Holdings.
She is accused of soliciting RM187.5 million from Saidi between January and April 2016 and receiving RM5 million and RM1.5 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
The project involves supplying solar hybrid energy to 369 rural schools in Sarawak.
In his testimony last week, Mahdzir said he was pressured to award the project to Jepak Holdings, which had zero experience in solar energy, by the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Rosmah.
Meanwhile, sixth prosecution witness, former Education Ministry secretary general Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad, also revealed that Rosmah told her to look into and expedite the award of the solar project to Jepak Holdings.
Madinah, 63, said this happened sometime in 2016 when she attended a Permata Negara programme officiated by Rosmah.
"Rosmah had just entered into her car when she suddenly lowered the car window and called me over.
"She then said 'you tengok sikit projek solar Jepak..cepatkan sikit' (you have a look at the solar project for Jepak Holdings...speed it up a little)
"I just answered Insha Allah Datin Seri (God willing Datin Seri)," she said, adding Rizal had also called her about the project before that.
The trial before judge Mohamad Zaini Mazlan continues on Monday.