Prosecutors to cite Zahid for contempt after bid to delay trial repudiated by PMO

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 2, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 2, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Prosecutors today sought to move the High Court to cite Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for contempt, after the Umno leader allegedly made false representation to the court to postpone his ongoing corruption trial this morning.

Earlier today, the High Court allowed Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers’ request to have the ongoing trial postponed to tomorrow, instead of resuming today as previously scheduled so that he could partake in talks on the formation of the new Cabinet.

“My instructions, the accused person will be in touch with the prime minister as regards to the formation of Cabinet for today. So on this basis, we ask the court to grant adjournment of this morning’s proceedings,” Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had told the court this morning.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) subsequently denied Ahmad Zahid’s claim by issuing a statement that prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was only scheduled to meet the Chief Secretary to the Government and heads of government agencies, also explaining in the statement that there are no meetings scheduled with political leaders today.

“The Prime Minister’s Office wishes to clarify that no meetings or gatherings with political leaders are scheduled for today,” Muhyiddin’s office said in a statement.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran then moved the court to cite Ahmad Zahid for contempt over the false statement made by the accused.

“That is a blatant lie to the court. I would like to move this court for contempt because the accused person has lied in court. He has intentionally misled the court into giving him a day off.

“We seek Your Lordship to apply discretion under Order 52 rule 2A Rules of the Court. This is unacceptable My Lord,” she said.

Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah the defence never had the intention to mock or deceive the court.

“We owe Your Lordship an explanation. It is not my intention to deceive My Lord. Perhaps there was a wrong choice of word. In fact, after court proceeding my client did made attempts to meet the PM but the PM had to rush to Muar,” he said.

Hisham then pointed out his client had indeed received a letter from the PMO and had requested the accused to be present at the PMO, insisting that his client did go to Putrajaya this morning.

“When my client arrived at Putrajaya, the PM had already left for Muar.

“I accept the responsibility as I was the one that made the application,” he said while admitting that he may have used the wrong choice of words during this morning’s application.

Raja Rozela further argued why the PMO had to issue a statement denying Ahmad Zahid’s claim if he had the letter in the first place.

To this, Sequerah then ordered Ahmad Zahid to produce the letter tomorrow, pending the court’s decision on whether to cite him for contempt.

Today was initially scheduled to be the 19th day of Ahmad Zahid’s trial involving 47 charges related to alleged bribery, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, with the prosecution saying this morning that it was ready to continue trial with five prosecution witnesses ready to testify.

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