Judge post­pones trial to an­other 6 months

New Straits Times - - News | Nation -

KOTA KINABALU: It will take at least an­other six months be­fore the tri­als for three peo­ple in­volved in the Sabah multi-mil­lion ring­git graft scan­dal can be­gin.

Ses­sions Court judge Abu Bakar Manat has fixed Feb 5 to 9, and Feb 20 to 23, as well as March 5 to 8, and March 19 to 22, as the new trial dates.

The tri­als of for­mer Sabah Wa­ter De­part­ment (SWD) di­rec­tor Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, 54, his wife, Fauziah Piut, 51, and re­tired SWD deputy di­rec­tor Lim Lam Beng, 62, was ini­tially sched­uled to be­gin in July but was post­poned to iron out tech­ni­cal­i­ties.

The cou­ple had pleaded not guilty to 31 money-laun­der­ing charges in­volv­ing RM59.1 mil­lion, and claimed trial to two counts of pos­sess­ing 575 pieces of jew­ellery and 346 other valu­able items, ac­quired through il­le­gal means.

Lim was charged with four counts of money laun­der­ing in­volv­ing RM2.38 mil­lion.

Abu Bakar an­nounced the de­ci­sion af­ter tak­ing into ac­count the re­quest by coun­sel P.J. Pereira, who rep­re­sented Awang Tahir and Fauziah for at least six more months to pre­pare the ac­coun­tants’ re­ports. Lim’s coun­sel, Karpaljit Singh, had said his client had yet to ap­point the lead coun­sel.

“Our trial dates have been fully oc­cu­pied this year (which the court) needs to fin­ish off.

“Based on the ex­pla­na­tions of both coun­sel, and since the court has no free avail­able dates, we will pro­ceed with these new dates next year.

“Since there is am­ple time to set­tle ev­ery­thing, there will be no more changes (of dates) un­less there is a near-death sit­u­a­tion and we will just pro­ceed with the trial this time.

“I am also fix­ing pre-trial case man­age­ment on Nov 29 to fi­nalise ev­ery­thing,” said Abu Bakar.

Deputy pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor from the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) Tengku Amir Zaki Tengku Ab­dul Rah­man, mean­while, said there were 215 wit­nesses in the fi­nal list to be called dur­ing the trial.

Pereira said his client, Awang Tahir, who is cur­rently re­quired to re­port to the MACC of­fice here fort­nightly, has asked for the vis­its to be re­duced to once a month.

Abu Bakar, in re­sponse, said they needed to make an ap­pli­ca­tion di­rectly with MACC.

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