Lawyers all set and ready
SHAH ALAM: The defence team of Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is now facing 87 criminal charges, is ready to fight the charges.
Lawyer Kitson Foong said his client remained cheerful and positive despite the astounding number of charges. “Of course, a person would be stressed when facing 87 charges but we are not near being convicted. “He is very strong. We will make the best defence for him,” Foong told reporters yesterday.
He said he was confident that the prosecution would be transparent in the proceeding. “This case involves a lot of documents and witnesses. Those under the Official Secrets Act must be declassified,” he said.
Yesterday, Ahmad Zahid claimed trial at a Sessions Court here to 33 new graft charges involving RM42.76mil over the contract to run a one-stop centre (OSC) in China and a foreign visa system (VLN). The Umno president was charged with 26 counts under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act and seven counts under Section 165 of the Penal Code. For the 26 offences under the MACC Act, Ahmad Zahid allegedly received a total of S$9,320,000 (RM28,524,326). According to the first until 19th charge sheets under the MACC Act, Ahmad Zahid is accused of receiving parts of the bribe as a reward to maintain Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd’s agreement contract to operate the VLN system. For the 20th until the 26th charges, he is accused of receiving parts of the bribe as a reward to extend Ultra Kirana’s contract as the operator of the OSC in China and VLN system. For these charges, he faces jail time up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
For the remaining offences under the Penal Code, he allegedly received RM3,125,000; S$1,150,000 (RM3,520,181); €15,000 (RM70,725); and US$15,000 (RM62,162) in seven transactions from Ultra Kirana despite knowing that the company has a relationship with his official function as the home minister.
He faces jail time up to two years, a fine or both, if convicted. The offences were allegedly committed at a house in Jalan Bayu Nyaman, Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and July 2017. It took the court interpreter 35 minutes to read all 33 charges before judge Rozilah Salleh. Ahmad Zahid stood up to hear the charges for 10 minutes before one of his lawyers, Hamidi Mohd Noh, asked the court to allow his client to sit as the charges were long. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Mukhzany Faris Mohd Mokhtar proposed bail at RM1mil but this was objected by Foong who told the court that bail amount must be reasonable. “I ask for RM500,000 and for the court to consider that my client was granted a RM200,000 bail on Wednesday,” Foong said. Rozilah set bail at RM500,000 in one surety and the case is fixed for mention on July 29. This new set of charges makes Ahmad Zahid’s total court charges 87, the most faced by an Umno party leader so far.
On Wednesday, he claimed trial to seven counts of graft involving S$4.24mil (RM12.98mil) he allegedly received from the same company over the same OSC and VLN system. He arrived at the courthouse yesterday with his daughter Datuk Nurulhidayah. The courtroom was filled with his supporters and reporters. Some media personnel had to wait outside of the courtroom. Ahmad Zahid kept his distance from the press and did not make any statements. Also present in the courtroom was Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam.