KUALA LUMPUR: The impeachment proceedings against a defence witness in the corruption trial of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi have been postponed to Oct 31 to allow his team time for research.
High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah had earlier allowed an application by the prosecution to impeach Syarikat Pembinaan Teknik Sempurna Sdn Bhd director Jefri Jamil under Section 155(c) of the Evidence Act 1950.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran made the move to impeach Jefri on grounds that the third defence witness gave contradictory testimony in court compared to the statement he gave to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) in 2018.
Ahmad Zahid’s lead counsel, Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, objected to the application on the grounds that Jefri’s statement to MACC was classified under the Official Secrets Act on March 2, 2021.
Hisyam said the prosecution should not be allowed to start the impeachment proceedings as the defence had earlier requested for the same document but it was rejected by the court as it was classified under the OSA.
The prosecution, however, contended that the two applications by the prosecution and the defence were on different matters.
Justice Sequerah said Section 155(c) did not allude to whether the documents were classified as official secrets or otherwise.
“So, the ruling of this court is that I will allow the proceedings to commence,” the judge said.
After the lunch break in the afternoon, DPP Raja Rozela informed the court that parties were not required to partake in the impeachment proceedings.
She said only the judge and the witness should be in the proceedings for the witness to explain the discrepancy in his statements to the judge.
Hisyam said the prosecution had raised an interesting point of law and requested more time be given for the defence to research its reply.
“This is the first time in my career that a document has been classified under OSA and yet used in impeachment proceedings.
“We ask for time to research this,” Hisyam said.
Justice Sequerah allowed for the impeachment proceedings against Jefri to be stayed.
“I will allow the defence time to do its research so we stay the proceedings on the witness,” he said, setting Oct 31 for the continuation of the proceedings.
Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges – 12 for criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.