KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 20): The High Court today ordered the RM1 million graft trial against former Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (better known as Ku Nan) to proceed as scheduled before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
This came after Justice Nazlan dismissed Ku Nan's bid to recuse the former from hearing the case.
The former minister filed the application after the judge convicted businessman Datuk Tan Eng Boon earlier this week and fined him RM1.5 million for abetting the former minister to receive a bribe.
Justice Nazlan ruled that Ku Nan's application is devoid of merit.
"The defence say that the applicant (Ku Nan) would be prejudiced as I presided in the conviction and sentencing of [Eng Boon], who would be called as a prosecution witness.
"This argument is without basis as the court would consider the evidence based on the facts and evidence in the case. Furthermore, the accused through his lawyers could subject [Eng Boon] to cross-examination.
"Besides this, if the matter is brought before another judge, the judge would have to consider the prosecution's case based on the same facts and evidence produced by the prosecution. Considering the circumstances, that I would be influenced to the detriment of the applicant is not sustainable and the trial should go on," ruled the judge.
Justice Nazlan also dismissed Ku Nan's lawyer Datuk Tan Hock Chuan's application for a stay of proceedings pending an appeal of the decision and ordered trial to begin immediately after dismissing the stay application.
The BN secretary-general filed a bid to recuse Justice Nazlan on Wednesday, saying he was concerned that he would not get a fair trial after the judge had already heard the facts of Eng Boon's case. The businessman is also the co-accused in the former minister's graft trial.
When met outside the court, Hock Chuan told reporters that his client will file an appeal against Justice Nazlan's decision.
The lawyer said the issue raised is a novel one as so far, the cases cited had been from the High Court, but this case is different as the judge who is presiding over the sentencing of a co-accused is also hearing the trial.
Hence, Hock Chuan said his client had instructed him to appeal the matter.
This is Ku Nan's second corruption case; his other trial involving an alleged RM2 million bribe had taken 12 days to complete, and High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan had fixed Oct 4 and 11 to hear oral submissions and clarifications from both parties when the prosecution wrapped up its case on Aug 2.
On Nov 15 last year, the Putrajaya MP pleaded not guilty to a charge of corruptly receiving RM1 million from Eng Boon to approve a company's application to increase the plot ratio for a development at Jalan Semarak here.
He was charged under Sections 16 and 24(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act for receiving the bribe.
If convicted, he could be jailed up to 20 years and fined five times the gratification amount.
The prosecution, however, tendered an amended charge against the former minister before the trial to which he maintained his not guilty plea.
According to the amended charge, the former minister was charged with assisting with approving the application by Eng Boon's company to increase the plot ratio of his development.