KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran is no longer the lead prosecutor for Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s Yayasan Akalbudi trial at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, as her application to retire early has been approved, Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun said today.
The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) stressed that the decision to replace Raja Rozela as the one leading the prosecution team in Zahid’s case was done after taking into account various factors and after thorough consideration.
“YM Dato’ Raja Rozela binti Raja Toran had submitted an application to retire early on April 3, 2023. That application was approved and will take effect on November 1, 2023. YM Dato’ Raja Rozela binti Raja Toran has applied to go on leave before retiring starting from August 30, 2023,” the attorney general said in a statement.
A check by Malay Mail of the AGC’s online directory shows that Raja Rozela is currently listed as the director of the special litigation unit in the AGC’s prosecution division.
The attorney general said Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar has been selected as the new leader of the prosecution team in Zahid’s trial at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, given his extensive experience of almost 30 years as a deputy public prosecutor.
“Currently, he is Head of the Appellate and Trial Division, Attorney General’s Chambers who handles Federal Court and Court of Appeal cases and high-profile cases including the case of Sulu terrorists’ intrusion at Lahad Datu, Sabah,” the attorney general said when describing Mohd Dusuki’s current role and experience.
“Since the case involving YAB Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is still ongoing and the trial dates have been scheduled until December 2023, therefore a new team leader had to be appointed from now to ensure continuity in the prosecution of the case involving YAB Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,” he added.
The attorney general added that the decision to appoint a new leader for the prosecution team in Zahid’s case was done carefully to ensure that the prosecution of his case would not be affected, and to also ensure that the AGC would be able to uphold justice in line with the attorney general’s jurisdiction under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution.
Under Article 145(3), the attorney general has the powers to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, with such powers exercisable at the attorney general’s discretion.
Raja Rozela has been the one leading the prosecution team since Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi trial began on November 18, 2019 and throughout the time that 99 prosecution witnesses were called to testify in the trial.
Raja Rozela was also still the lead prosecutor when six defence witnesses including Zahid testified during the trial.
The last time that Raja Rozela had appeared in court for Zahid’s case was on April 10 this year, which was when the High Court was informed of Zahid’s sending in of a second representation letter to the attorney-general on the case and where the case was postponed to August while the AGC studied his representation and awaited the outcome of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) planned further investigation into the case.
While both the prosecution and Zahid’s team have not publicly specified the content of the representation, accused persons can typically send in representation letters to the attorney-general for purposes such as to seek the dropping of charges or to ask for alternative charges with lower penalties.
Throughout the trial when it resumed last week (August 1 and August 3), Raja Rozela was noticeably absent on both days, with Dusuki instead being the one leading the cross-examination of the seventh defence witness.
Zahid is currently the deputy prime minister.
Zahid, who is also Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, is facing 47 charges in the trial at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
The 47 charges are namely, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to over RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges of over RM21.25 million in alleged bribes.
Yayasan Akalbudi was founded with the purported objectives of receiving and administering funds for the eradication of poverty and enhancing the welfare of the poor.
Zahid’s trial at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah was previously scheduled to resume this week from Monday to Thursday, but Malay Mail understands that the trial would not be proceeding for the entire week.
Malay Mail understands that Zahid’s lawyers had last Thursday applied via a letter for the trial this week to be adjourned and that the prosecution had no objection to the request, with the High Court in Kuala Lumpur then exercising its discretion to allow the postponement of the trial this week. With the postponement, the four hearing dates this week will be replaced with four additional days this December.
Based on the latest court listings as of today, Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi trial at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur is scheduled to resume on August 21 to August 24, September 4 to 7, November 1, November 17, November 20 to 24, November 27 to 29, December 4 to 7 and December 11 to 15.
Apart from the Yayasan Akalbudi case, Zahid has a separate case which went on trial at the High Court in Shah Alam.
The High Court in Shah Alam had on September 23, 2022 acquitted Ahmad Zahid of all 40 charges in a corruption case, with the prosecution having since then filed an appeal against the acquittal.
Ahmad Zahid was previously reported to have sent a representation letter to ask for the prosecution to discontinue its appeal against his acquittal.
The prosecution’s appeal against Zahid’s acquittal has yet to be heard and is scheduled for case management at the Court of Appeal on September 18.