KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — The defence counsel in Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s trial for criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds is seeking to impeach star witness Rafiq Hakim Razali.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo asked Judge Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid if there was a way to impeach Rafiq because his oral testimony in court differed from his witness testimony.
“Ordinarily when counsel is of the view the witness has made a previous statement which is inconsistent with the statement that he made in court, the procedure is to provide the defence with a copy of the statement he gave to the police or Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) because in normal cases, you don’t have a witness statement.
“You would have to get the statement given during investigations and see if there are contradictions, make a submission to the judge explaining why there are contradictions and the judge will decide if prosecution needs to supply you with a copy of the documents.
“Today is different, as before the trial, prosecution served us with witness statements. Question is, when prosecution doesn’t use that witness statement and reads oral evidence from the witness, and we find the witness’ oral statement contradicting their witness statement we have before us, then what procedure is to be applied here?
“So question of law is what to do in circumstances like this where an application to impeach the credibility of the witness is a novel point,” said Gobind when met outside the courtroom.
Rafiq is Armada’s former assistant treasurer and the main witness for the prosecution in this trial where Syed Saddiq is accused of abetting Rafiq to withdraw RM1 million in funds belonging to the Bersatu Youth wing.
He is alleged to have committed the offence at CIMB Bank Bhd, Menara CIMB KL Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, here on March 6, 2020, He is also charged with misusing property for himself, namely RM120,000 from the Maybank Islamic Bhd account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise by causing Rafiq to dispose of the money at Malayan Banking Berhad, Jalan Pandan 3/6A, Taman Pandan Jaya here between April 8 and 21, 2018.
He also faces two counts of engaging in money laundering activities, namely two transactions of RM50,000, believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities, from his Maybank Islamic Bhd account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account, on June 16 and 19, 2018.
However, since the beginning of the week, Rafiq has been contradicting himself on the stand. He confessed to being pressured by MACC officers on Monday.
Rafiq testified that he was told by Syed Saddiq to withdraw the money from the bank as the money belonged to him from his efforts to raise funds for campaigning in his Muar constituency.
Rafiq’s colleague, former Armada assistant secretary Ahmad Redzuan Mohamed Shafi, said withdrawing the money was not an offence, and that an offence would only have been committed if the money was spent without prior approval.
Then, yesterday, Gobind accused Rafiq of being coached by the deputy public prosecutor and MACC officers on what to say in the trial so he would implicate Syed Saddiq.
Judge Azhar said this was the first time such a request was made and asked the trial to stand down so both parties can do some reading into the matter and come back on Monday, but it was then changed to tomorrow morning.
“We need to be careful about this and I do not want anything that could prejudice the accused be wrongly admitted so to be on the safe side I’m going to require both parties to do some reading on this,” Judge Azhar told the court before adjourning.
Impeachment proceedings are to discredit witness evidence based on it being contrary to what was presented in court.
The court will hear submissions from both sides and reach a decision after taking into account the arguments.