No thanks, say Khairuddin, Chang to offer to withdraw sabotage charge

Khairuddin-matthias-courtKUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution today offered to withdraw the charge of sabotaging the nation’s banking and financial services against former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan and lawyer Matthias Chang.

However, the duo wants nothing short of an acquittal.

Government lawyer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud informed Sessions Court judge Wan Norisham Wan Yaakob that the prosecution was discontinuing the case.

“We are not pursuing the case in the interest of justice and fairness. We want the accused to be given a discharge, but not amounting to an acquittal” he said.

However, Khairuddin and Chang’s lawyers insisted their clients should be acquitted as there should be no charge hanging over their heads.

If an acquittal is given, the prosecution cannot charge them again on the same facts but a discharge would enable the prosecution to frame the same charge against them again later.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, appearing for Khairuddin, said merely being present at five overseas police stations by the two did not amount to committing the offence as charged.

“If there is a proceeding, the defence will show that the charge is a nullity,” he added.

Haniff said the defence would also reveal that the charge had been made in bad faith by “those in power”.

“The prosecution’s offer of a discharge now means they can be charged again, and it is akin to a dagger hanging over their heads,” Haniff said.

Lawyer Zainur Zakaria, representing Chang, said the offer of a discharge meant that the prosecution was only deferring the charge to another day.

Wan Norisham will decide tomorrow whether to acquit or only give a discharge to Khairuddin and Chang.

Both were jointly charged under Section 124L of the Penal Code in late 2015 for being at police stations to make reports against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The charge sheet states the two were at the Office of the Chief of Police Economic and Finance Criminal Divison in Paris, Charing Cross police station in London, Attorney-General’s Office of Switzerland in Berne, Wai Chan police station in Hong Kong and Cantonment police headquarters in Singapore.

They were at these locations between June 28 and Aug 26, 2015.

The charge said their act was intended to sabotage Malaysia’s banking and financial services. The offence, if proved, can land them in jail for up to 15 years.

Last December, the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that the charge they faced was not a security offence and as such they were entitled to be free pending the outcome of their case.

The government had wanted the pair to be tried before a High Court judge as, it said, the charge was a security-related offence. This would mean that it could use the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) against the duo.

Following their denial of bail, the two filed an application in the High Court to be tried in the lower court.

On Nov 18, 2015, High Court judge Mohd Azman Husin found that the sabotage charge against them was not a security offence.

The case then went to the Sessions Court, where Sosma procedures do not apply.