Judge postpones trial to another 6 months
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.