SHAH ALAM (Jan 6): Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was offered alternative charges by the prosecution for 33 of his 40 charges of bribery involving the overseas visa (VLN) system.

The remaining seven charges without alternative charges will remain unchanged.

Ahmad Zahid claimed trial for all the alternative charges at the Sessions Court here today.

For the alternative charges, Ahmad Zahid is charged under Section 165 of the Penal Code, which, if found guilty, carries a sentence of up to two years' imprisonment and a fine, or both.

This is a lighter sentence compared to the original charges, which were filed under the Section 16 of MACC Act 2009.

Under those charges, if convicted, he faces a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification which is the subject matter of the offence, where such gratification is capable of being valued or is of a pecuniary nature, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The court fixed Oct 12-15, 26-28, Nov 2-5, 16-19, 23-26, 30, and Dec 1-3 this year as the trial dates for the case.

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