Case put off to April 25 pend­ing de­ci­sion of Court of Ap­peal

New Straits Times - - News -

GE­ORGE TOWN: The graft trial of Chief Min­is­ter Lim Guan Eng and busi­ness­woman Phang Li Koon has been post­poned pend­ing the ap­peal against the dis­missal of their mo­tion to de­clare Sec­tion 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) Act 2009 “un­con­sti­tu­tional”.

The 34-day trial, in­volv­ing 60 wit­nesses, was sup­posed to be­gin on Mon­day.

Yes­ter­day, Lim’s de­fence team, led by Gobind Singh Deo, and Phang’s de­fence team led by Datuk V. Sitham­baram, ap­plied to ap­peal against the court’s de­ci­sion on March 7 to dis­miss the mo­tion to de­clare Sec­tion 62 of the MACC Act 2009 as “un­con­sti­tu­tional”.

Judge Datuk Had­hariah Syed Is­mail al­lowed the ap­pli­ca­tions by the de­fence teams and va­cated the dates set for trial. She set April 25 for men­tion, and re­scinded her ear­lier or­der for the de­fence to sub­mit their state­ments by March 21.

On March 7, Had­hariah had dis­missed the ap­pli­ca­tion by the de­fence to de­clare Sec­tion 62 as “un­con­sti­tu­tional”.

The ap­pli­ca­tion, filed on Jan 6, claimed that Sec­tion 62 con­tra­vened Ar­ti­cle 5 (1) of the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion, which reads that no per­son shall be de­prived of his life or per­sonal lib­erty save in ac­cor­dance with law, and also Ar­ti­cle 8(1) of the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion that reads all per­sons are equal be­fore the law and en­ti­tled to equal pro­tec­tion of the law.

On June 30, Lim claimed trial to two counts of cor­rup­tion.

On the first count, he was al­leged to have used his po­si­tion as a pub­lic ser­vant to ob­tain grat­i­fi­ca­tion for him­self and his wife by ap­prov­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion by Mag­nif­i­cent Em­blem

Sdn Bhd to con­vert agri­cul­tural land into res­i­den­tial land, while chair­ing a state Plan­ning Com­mit­tee meet­ing on July 18, 2014.

He was charged un­der Sec­tion 23 of the MACC Act 2009, which car­ries a max­i­mum 20 years’ jail and a fine up to five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, depend­ing on which is higher.

On the sec­ond count, he was charged with us­ing his po­si­tion to buy a house at Jalan Pin­horn from Phang at RM2.8 mil­lion, which was be­low the mar­ket value of RM4.27 mil­lion, on July 28 last year.

The charge un­der Sec­tion 165 of the Pe­nal Code car­ries two years’ jail, a fine or both, if con­victed.

Phang claimed trial to abet­ment.

Gobind said he had filed an ap­peal at the Court of Ap­peal against the High Court’s dis­missal of his client’s mo­tion.

“If the Court of Ap­peal al­lows the ap­peal, it will af­fect both de­fence teams dur­ing the trial. It is best if the Court of Ap­peal hears and de­cides on the is­sue be­fore this case pro­ceeds,” he said.

Deputy pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud said the pros­e­cu­tion agreed with the de­fence’s ap­pli­ca­tion for a post­pone­ment and were ap­peal­ing to the Court of Ap­peal to hear the de­fence’s ap­peal soon­est.

Blog­ger Lim Sian See said Lim’s ac­tion of de­lay­ing the trial made no sense if he was truth­ful when he said he was in­no­cent.

In a Face­book post yes­ter­day, Sian See ques­tioned Lim’s mo­tive when the lat­ter claimed he had “ev­i­dence” to clear his name.

Lim had said the ev­i­dence could not be dis­closed out­side of the court or he would be hit with a con­tempt of court or­der

Lim Guan Eng

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