KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Former Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) director-general Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid will seek to have the court cancel an arrest warrant that was issued after she “forgot” to show up today, her lawyer said.
When contacted, Hasanah’s lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz said his client had merely forgotten to be present in court when her criminal case came up for case management this morning.
“There is no issue. It was just Hasanah forgot to attend court today and our firm also forgot to remind her,” he told Malay Mail.
“She was at home when the case is called and we have applied to court to adjourn the matter to afternoon for Hasanah to attend.
“But DPP objected [to] our application and applied for a warrant of arrest,” he added.
Khairul Azam argued that the prosecution should not have sought for the arrest warrant, as today was merely for a case management.
“This application was uncalled for because both parties have agreed with the trial dates fixed on February 2020 and today was just a case management to reconfirm the trial dates,” he said.
He claimed that Hasanah’s attendance at the case management was “not necessary”, but said the prosecution had insisted on her being present.
“Hasanah’s attendance is not necessary but the DPP won’t tolerate. So the court fixed 26 June 2019 for Hasanah to attend court and we will apply to set aside the warrant of arrest,” he added.
Another lawyer for Hasanah, Datuk Shaharudin Ali, said that the situation today was essentially a “genuine mistake”.
“This is a case management where both parties will have to come to court and get a date, to show our diary and get a date and it will finish in three minutes. We didn’t know this date-taking will lead to a warrant of arrest,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
“Our client was not aware of it, we genuinely believed there was really no need for the accused to come to court because it was just a case management.
“The practice from court to court in this country differs, some courts insist that accused persons attend court; some courts do not insist as long as they have lawyers to represent them and that the lawyers confirm that they are not running away or they are not hiding, it’s fine,” he added.
Shaharudin argued that there was “no necessity” for an accused person to attend court when it is for the fixing of new court dates, stressing that Hasanah’s lawyers believe that the presence of the accused is “not compulsory” when it is not for trial.
“This is not a trial, a trial will need to be attended by an accused person. This is not a trial, this is just a case management, getting dates; so I think, for me, with the greatest of respect, it is unreasonable for the DPP to insist on a warrant of arrest,” he said.
On April 17, High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had fixed trial dates from February 3 until February 21, 2020 for Hasanah’s case, and had fixed today for case management.
On October 25, 2018, Hasanah was charged with criminal breach of trust over US$12.1 million (RM50.4 million) of government funds.
Hasanah who headed the now-defunct MEIO is accused of committing the offence in her previous capacity as a civil servant in the Research Department of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between April 30 and May 9, 2018.
The charge under Section 409 of the Penal Code carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and whipping and fine, upon conviction.