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Federal Court orders retrial in murder of Ambank founder

 | December 14, 2016

Apex court sets aside conviction against tow truck driver and directs a new High Court judge to preside over retrial.


PUTRAJAYA: A tow truck driver has been ordered to stand trial again for the murder of the Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder and the attempted murder of the banker’s wife three years ago, ruling that the trial judge was prejudiced against the accused.

A five-man Federal Court bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin also directed a new judge to preside over the cases.

“We allow the appeal and set aside the appellant’s conviction. The case is remitted to the High Court for retrial before a new judge,” he said.

The case has now been fixed for mention at the High Court on Dec 19.

Koong Swee Kwan was charged with the murder of Hussain Ahmad Najadi, 75, and attempted murder of Najadi’s wife, Cheong Mei Kuen, 49 at the Kuan Yin Temple in Jalan Ceylon in Kuala Lumpur on July 29, 2013.

Trial judge Mohd Azman Husin in September 2014, sentenced Koong to death for Najadi’s murder and 18 years in jail for the attempted murder of Cheong.

Last year the Court of Appeal upheld the convictions and sentence.

Today at the Federal Court, Koong’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said his client was prejudiced as it was Azman who also dismissed taxi driver Chew Siang Chee’s appeal for possessing a pistol and ammunition.

These exhibits were closely linked to the murder and Chew also turned prosecution witness.

Early this year, the Court of Appeal acquitted Chew on grounds the prosecution failed to prove their case.

Teh submitted that his client had been denied a fair trial as Azman could have been influenced by prejudicial evidence in the case of Chew who had allegedly ferried Koong before the murder.

He said Azman who presided over Koong’s trial was also aware that Chew had identified Koong as the murder suspect.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said there was other evidence that showed Koong’s overwhelming involvement in the alleged murder even if the court were to reject Chew’s testimony.

There were several eyewitnesses who testified that they saw Koong shooting Najadi.

“Without depending on Chew, our case is very strong and there is no need for a retrial,” he submitted.

Wan Shaharuddin said prosecution witnesses would be reluctant to give evidence again, fearing for their safety.


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