Why now, Musa asks as questions raised over decade-old charges

KUALA LUMPUR: Questions have been raised over the repeat of old accusations of corruption against Musa Aman today, with the former Sabah chief minister dismissing them as politically motivated.

“This is a politically motivated case, why now?” Musa asked moments after he claimed trial to 35 charges of corruption, which include allegations that he accepted bribes worth millions of ringgit over timber concessions.

Amer Hamzah Arshad.

Musa’s counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad also questioned if his client’s arrest had to do with the impending judgment on his claim as the rightful chief minister of Sabah, following Shafie Apdal’s appointment in the wake of the May elections after several defections from Barisan Nasional.

“I hope that this is not some ploy to prejudice Musa in the eyes of the Kota Kinabalu High Court,” Amer said in a statement, adding that Musa still stood a chance as he was still innocent.

Amer said the charges brought to the Sessions Court today “smell of selective persecution”, as they were all allegedly committed between 2004 and 2014.

According to the charge sheet, the 35 charges were allegedly committed in Singapore and Hong Kong, involving transactions ranging from US$28,500 to US$16,148,547, amounted to a grand total of RM263 million.

Eight individuals were also named in the charge sheet, including one Michael Chia Tian Foh.

Musa meanwhile said he had already been cleared of the charges in 2012, and recalled a statement in Parliament by then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz.

Checks showed that Musa was cleared in 2012, with Nazri telling the Dewan Rakyat that the Attorney-General’s Chambers found no elements of corruption in the evidence furnished by MACC.

Nazri had also said that the money was meant for Sabah Umno and not for Musa’s personal use.

Musa today said he would fight the charges in court to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Sabah Umno said it was not surprised by the charges brought against Musa, adding that it was part of efforts to tarnish the image of the previous administration.

“We are not surprised by this prosecution. They will prosecute anyone from the opposition bloc to imply to the public that the previous government was corrupted,” said state Umno Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain.

“Whatever the accusation is, let Musa clear his name through the court of law and the law clearly says innocent until proven guilty.”

MACC deputy commissioner Azam Baki meanwhile sidestepped questions on the charges being repeated against Musa today.

“Let us wait for the trial and you will later know the details,” Azam told reporters at the Sessions Court today.

Earlier, lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the court that Musa was investigated for a long time.

But Sri Ram did not give a reason why old cases were brought back despite Musa being cleared.

“I am unable to explain why they were closed previously and now the cases are reopened,” he said.