GEORGE TOWN, Sept 3 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is the former Penang Chief Minister, and businesswoman Phang Li Koon have been acquitted by the High Court here today on corruption charges over the purchase of a bungalow below the market value.
Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail discharged and acquitted Lim, 58, and Phang, 46, following an application by lawyer Ramkarpal Singh who was representing Lim and Datuk V.Sithambaram and Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who acted for Phang, for their clients to be fully acquitted on the charges.
Hadhariah said she did not agree with the prosecution’s request for the charges to be withdrawn and both accused to be discharged not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).
“The charges cannot be hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely. There must be a finality in this case. I cannot agree with the prosecution. We do not conduct cases on an instalment basis. There must be a stop, no coma, especially in criminal cases.
“After studying the case as a whole and the very long time to get a decision, I order that both the accused be discharged and acquitted,” she said.
Before she made the order, Hadhariah said so far the prosecution had called 25 witnesses to testify in the trial last March and now in September the prosecution had asked the case to be DNAA.
“Six months later, the prosecution may call for other witnesses. There is no such thing especially in public interest case. If the prosecution requests for DNAA, the court too cannot close the case,” she said.
As soon as the court delivered the verdict, Lim and Phang were seen hugging each other in the dock. The court was packed with his supporters and Phang’s family members.
At the outset, Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud informed the court that the prosecution did not want to pursue the charges against the two accused under Section 254 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“The prosecution had received representations from both the accused and after a scrutiny, the prosecution withdrew the charges based on the requirement of the law under Section 254 where the provision amounts a release without acquittal,” he said.
DNAA means, the prosecution could pursue the same charges against the accused. — Bernama