Court to hear request to reverse Guan Eng’s acquittal next week

Muhsin Abdul Latheef (centre) with criminologist Shamsher Singh Thind (left) and Penang Front Party chairman Patrick Ooi (right).

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court will hear a Facebook marketer’s application to review the acquittal of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon of corruption next week.

This comes after Muhsin Abdul Latheef called on the court to revise the decision from an acquittal to a discharge not amounting to an acquittal as first requested by the deputy public prosecutor.

Lim and Phang were acquitted on Sept 3 of corruption charges involving allegations that Lim converted the status of agricultural land for residential purposes for Phang, who in return sold him a bungalow at below market price.

The duo pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2016.

In his application to review the acquittal on Sept 19, Muhsin named the public prosecutor, Lim and Phang as respondents in the case.

He asked the court to review the case, claiming that Lim was “close to the attorney-general” which could be construed as a conflict of interest.

The High Court initially set today to hear Muhsin’s application, but this was deferred to Oct 12 as Muhsin’s lawyer, J Gunamalar, had another case to attend at the Shah Alam High Court.

High Court judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail, who was supposed to preside over Muhsin’s application today, said she was miffed to receive a late notice of this from Gunamalar.

She added that she had received two letters from the lawyer over the past two days, which was too close to call.

“I can easily dispose of the case,” she said. “It only takes five minutes. But I will not do so as it will cause an issue later.”

Lim’s lawyer Ramkarpal Singh and V Sithambaram who represents Phang said they were ready to submit their objections without further delay.

They also supported a preliminary objection by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Ghazali Muhamad Nadzri. Ghazali, a deputy public prosecutor with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), had put forth his objections in a letter, saying Muhsin had no locus standi in the case.

He added that according to Section 278 of the Criminal Procedure Code, judgment should not be altered unless there is a clerical error.

Outside the courthouse, Muhsin pleaded for donations to cover his legal costs in pursuing the case, saying he required at least RM20,000.

Muhsin, 34, was MACC’s first prosecution witness in the corruption trial of Lim and Phang.

He told the court that he had lodged a police report in March 2016 after becoming “concerned” over the graft allegations against Lim.

He said he first heard about the matter in a recorded Dewan Rakyat session where Tasek Gelugor MP Shahbudin Yahaya brought the accusations against Lim.