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Guan Eng's corruption trial: Judge rebukes prosecution for not informing decision to not use written witness statement

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 11): Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi on Thursday (Nov 11) rebuked deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin for not informing the court and defence that the prosecution did not intend to use the written witness statement prepared for ex-Penang state secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus, who is testifying in former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng's corruption trial involving the proposed Penang Undersea Tunnel.

Azura said she was not informed that the witness statement would not be used and suggested the prosecution should have informed the court and defence about the prosecution's decision to not do so.

"You better inform the court because you [have] already submitted it to the defence. If you are using a written witness statement, inform me, at least [then] I know. In this case, I did not know anything," Azura said during the Sessions Court hearing here.

Wan Shaharuddin said the prosecution had a choice on whether to use the written witness statement, which the prosecution had given to the defence.

However, Azura said the prosecution should at least have the courtesy to inform the defence if the prosecution chose to not use the written witness statement.

Representing Lim is lawyer Gobind Singh Deo.

Lim is facing several charges including one involving his wife Betty Chew.

News reports on Sept 9, 2020 said Lim on that day claimed that the timing of two charges of dishonest misappropriation of property against him proved that the prosecution was "politically motivated", noting that filing of the charges at the Butterworth Sessions Court on Sept 11 came a day before nomination day for the Sabah state election on Sept 12.

It was reported on Sept 9 that Lim was facing the two charges under Section 403 of the Penal Code.

According to news reports, the two charges of dishonest misappropriation of property involving two plots of land collectively valued at RM208.75 million were linked to the Penang Undersea Tunnel project.

Prior to the two charges of dishonest misappropriation of property, Lim was charged three times in August 2020.

It was reported that two of Lim's criminal charges involved the undersea tunnel project while the other was related to Chew.

It was reported that Lim claimed trial at the Sessions Court here in August 2020 for one charge of soliciting a 10% cut of profit from the undersea tunnel project from Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

It was reported that Lim allegedly asked for the bribe at The Gardens Hotel & Residences within the Mid Valley City here in 2011.

According to news reports, Lim was also charged at the Butterworth Sessions Court in Penang for abusing his position as a public officer to assist Zarul's company to be appointed to undertake the construction of main roads and the undersea tunnel, reportedly worth RM6.341 billion, to obtain a RM3.3 million bribe.

News reports indicated that Lim was alleged to have committed the crime between January 2011 and August 2017 at the KOMTAR Tower in Penang while he was chief minister of Penang.

Lim also faces another unrelated charge for abuse of power in relation to a bribe which was alleged to have been received by his wife Chew.

It was reported that Lim was charged for abusing his post as a public officer during his tenure as Penang chief minister and Penang Development Corp's tender committee chairman to ensure that Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd was given an invitation for the proposed workers' village project in Batu Kawan worth RM11.61 million.

It was reported that Chew was alleged to have received RM372,009 from Excel Property Management & Consultancy Sdn Bhd in relation to the project.

At the Sessions Court on Thursday (Nov 11, 2021), Gobind objected to the prosecution's decision on not using the written witness statement when Wan Shaharuddin was conducting the examination-in-chief on Farizan.

In legal terminology, the phrase examination-in-chief is a process under which a witness is questioned in court by the party who called the witness to provide evidence in a case.

Gobind told Azura that the prosecution had provided the defence with the written witness statement but instead chose to conduct the examination-in-chief on Farizan verbally without informing the defence.

"The prosecution had provided their [written] witness statement to [the defence] and we (the defence) have prepared [the] reply relating to the witness statement. But of course, the prosecution is leading [the examination-in-chief] orally," Gobind said.

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