Court grants Tengku Adnan discharge not amounting to acquittal in RM1m corruption trial

Former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex January 17, 2020. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex January 17, 2020. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali today granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) to Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in his RM1 million corruption trial following an appeal for the order by prosecutors.

The order was granted by Mohd Nazlan after Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Julia Ibrahim told the court she had received instructions from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to seek the DNAA order citing new developments in the case that warranted further investigation. 

“In my view, the reasons submitted by the deputy public prosecutor on the new developments in the case and the need to investigate them further justifies this court not to order a full acquittal.

“I therefore order the accused to be discharged not amounting to an acquittal,” said Mohd Nazlan.

Julia had earlier explained to the court that the new developments needed to be probed further before they could continue with the trial as the outcome could jeopardise proceedings. 

The DPP however did not provide an indicator of how long investigations into these new developments would need, to the objection of Tengku Adnan’s lead defence counsel Datuk Tan Hock Chuan. 

Tan had submitted and cited several past judgements where an accused in a similar position was granted a full acquittal, requesting the court grant the same for his client whom he said has had the trial hanging over his head for the last two years. 

The defence lawyer also submitted how new evidence propping up at such an advanced stage of the trial warranted his client to be granted a full discharge, pointing out how it would be possible to file a new fresh charge against his client later on if the prosecution’s investigations deemed it fit. 

To this, Julia replied how there is nothing restricting the defence team from following up with the prosecution over the status of investigations, rebutting Tan’s submission that a DNAA would effectively leave his client in the balance for an indefinite amount of time while their probe is underway. 

Then in his brief judgement, Mohd Nazlan agreed with Julia, and said it was within the perimetres of the Criminal Procedure Code that an accused discharged from their trial shall not necessarily be given a full acquittal, unless the court orders for it. 

“Based on this case, there are good grounds to grant a discharge not amounting to an acquittal to the accused,” said Mohd Nazlan before delivering his DNAA judgement. 

When met outside court, Tengku Adnan, donning a navy blue suit who came along with his wife declined to comment and just offered a grin when prodded for a reaction. 

In this trial, the 69-year-old Putrajaya MP is charged with corruptly receiving for himself RM1 million from businessman Datuk Tan Eng Boon, who had pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of abetting the politician and was fined RM1.5 million.

The money was allegedly deposited into Tengku Adnan’s CIMB Bank account as an inducement to assist the application by Nucleus Properties Sdn Bhd to increase the company’s plot ratio in regard to a development project on Lot 228, Jalan Semarak, Kuala Lumpur.

What DNAA means?

In criminal cases before the court, there are several outcomes possible: such as a conviction and sentencing of an accused; or an acquittal of an accused; or a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) of an accused. 

A DNAA effectively means an accused is released from the charges but with the possibility of them facing trial for the same offences in the future if the prosecution decides to reinstate charges.

In other words, a DNAA means that an accused is not scot-free and has not been acquitted of their charges, but is merely discharged of the charges.

When explaining the effect of a DNAA order, criminal lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu told Malay Mail that a DNAA order does not prevent the prosecution from charging the accused again based on the same facts, and that the plea of double jeopardy based on the Federal Constitution’s Article 7 would not be applicable.

Among other things, Article 7 of the Federal Constitution states that a person who has been acquitted or convicted of an offence shall not be tried again for the same offence, except where the conviction or acquittal was quashed and a retrial ordered by a higher court than the court where he was charged or acquitted. 

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