Judge rebukes lawyer over grilling of witness

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 – Lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader, representing Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in a corruption case involving a hybrid solar project for rural schools in Sarawak, was rebuked by High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, who is presiding the case, for his way of “grilling” former Education Ministry (MOE) secretary-general Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad, who is a witness during cross-examination today.

“He (Alias) is not on trial here…mind yourself of the charges,” said the judge to Akberdin, who claimed that the 12th witness had interests in the RM1.25 billion hybrid solar project.

Earlier, Akberdin questioned on Alias’ action in personally contacting a former secretary at the Government Procurement Division of the Ministry of Finance (MOF), Datuk Othman Semail, to request for MOF to proceed with MOE’s application for approval of RM130 million in advance payment for the implementation of the hybrid solar project.

Akberdin: After receiving a letter dated April 19, 2017 from the MOF, I put it to you that you personally made a call to Datuk Othman asking for his good office to approve MOE’s application for advance payment of RM130 million.

Alias: About the call (to Othman), I agreed (making the call), but to talk about other matters, not about the RM130 million advance payment.

Akberdin: I put it to you that the response from Datuk Othman was that he held to the letter, he could not entertain your request because you did not follow procedures.

Alias: I disagree.

Akberdin: I put it to you that you took extra effort and initiative, to the extent of calling Othman because you had interest in the project.

Alias: I disagree.

During the previous proceeding, former secretary at the Asset Procurement and Management Division of MOE, Kamarudin Abdullah, had told the court that the letter dated April 19, 2017 was a from MOF to MOE which stated that the MOE’s request for approval of the advance payment of RM130 million was being looked into.

According to Kamarudin, MOF, also stated in the letter that to expedite the payment process, MOE would need to take action, like adhering to financial procedures and regulations and to expedite the process of signing a procurement contract with the contractor of the project, Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Rosmah, 68, is facing a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a bribe of RM6.5 million from Jepak Holdings managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin through her former aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor as gratification for helping the company to secure the RM1.25 billion Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar System Integrated Project and Maintenance and Operation of Genset/Diesel for the 369 rural schools in Sarawak, through direct negotiation from the Education Ministry.

She allegedly committed the offences at three places, namely Lygon Cafe at Sunway Putra Mall in Jalan Putra here; her house at Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta here, and at the Seri Perdana Residence, Persiaran Seri Perdana, Precinct 10, Putrajaya between January 2016 and Sept 7, 2017.

The hearing continues on April 6.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency