Paragraphs are facts linked directly to the issue that formed the core of Zahid’s defence case
The prosecution in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial failed in their bid to expunge 15 paragraphs of a statement by the second defence witness which they claimed were irrelevant to the trial.
The High Court instead allowed a big chunk of the written statement from Major General (R) Fadzlette Othman Merican Idris Merican to be used, ruling to remove only three out of the 34 paragraphs.
High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah in his ruling, said the removal of the three paragraphs was done under Section 153 of the Evidence Act (EA).
The other paragraphs are facts linked directly to the issue that formed the core of the defence case, he said.
He said Section 153 applies to specific circumstances where the evidence adduced went only as far as to injure the character of the witness, and is not relevant to the facts and issues.
“In those circumstances, once a witness has answered the question, the section will operate to prevent any adverse party from introducing contradictory evidence.
“Applying this principle to the particular proposed witness statement, I find that the part in paragraph 18 which the defence considers, falls under the prohibitory ambit of Section 153 (of the Act).
“While the last line of paragraph 17 and full paragraph 22 also caught Section 153 (of the Act).
“Apart from this portion I have mentioned, I find that the rest of the questions relate to the facts directly in issue which forms the core of the defence case and therefore are not collateral matters under the Section,” he said.
He said the prosecution was allowed to submit any objection at the end of the defence case, as a way to save time, should similar objections to be raised for other witness statements as well.
“Therefore, those (other) witness statements will be admitted as they are but without prejudice to the prosecution’s right to ask for the offending paragraphs or portions of the witness statement to be expunged at the end of the case by way of submission of the whole case,” he said.
Lead prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran, on Monday, had objected to major parts of Fadzlette’s witness statement claiming they was unrelated to the trial.
She said the statement was aimed at damaging Major Mazlina Mazlan’s character as she was a key prosecution witness, and that Mazlina’s credibility had been challenged during the defence cross-examination.
Zahid, 69, is facing 47 charges, including 12 for criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.
The charge carries a maximum 20 years’ jail, whipping and fine, upon conviction. – NMH