Big court cases of 2019

Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi faces 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and graft.

PETALING JAYA: The prosecution of former prime minister Najib Razak hogged the headlines in 2019, but there were several other court cases that grabbed readers’ attention as well. Two cases were heard in the coroner’s court and another in a virtual court set up by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial

Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was arrested over alleged abuse of funds linked to his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akal Budi.

The Umno president soon found himself in court having to answer 47 charges of alleged criminal breach of trust, money laundering and accepting bribes during his tenure as home minister.

Tale of two Sabah chief ministers

The Court of Appeal in November struck out former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to dismiss his claim as the rightful CM. Musa argued that his suit was aimed at establishing that Sabah governor Juhar Mahiruddin had acted unconstitutionally in replacing him with Shafie Apdal after last year’s general election.

Two accused of killing Kim Jong Nam released

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong were charged along with four others still at large with the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, by smearing his face with a banned chemical weapon in 2017.

The case quickly caught international attention.

After insisting they were deceived into thinking they were participating in a reality TV show, Siti Aisyah was released in March and Doan in May.

Murder of Cradle Fund CEO

In September, four people were charged with the murder of Cradle Fund CEO Nazrin Hassan, who died on June 14, 2018, the day a fire broke out in his home. The case is ongoing. The four accused are Nazrin’s wife Samirah Muzaffar, two teenagers and an Indonesian national, Eka Wahyu Lestari.

Dutch model’s death reclassified as murder

Police are reinvestigating the death of Dutch model Ivana Smit as a murder case following an order from the KL High Court that the case be reopened.

The court took into account  testimony that she could have been involved in a struggle before her death.

Smit died in 2017 in an apparent fall from the 20th floor of a condominium and the case was classified as sudden death.

Adib inquest

A 41-day inquest into the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim ended in September with the coroner’s court at the Shah Alam High Court ruling it was the result of a criminal act performed by two unidentified individuals.

The 24-year-old sustained severe injuries during a commotion at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya in November 2018. Rioters were protesting against the temple’s relocation.

Adib died 21 days after the incident.

Batu Arang police shootout inquest

A shootout in the Selangor town of Batu Arang in September ended in three men being killed. Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador subsequently called for an inquest.

According to police, the three ignored an order to stop their car and a 7km chase ensued. They said shots were fired at the police, who returned fire.

The inquest began on Dec 13.

Enforced disappearances

Suhakam held an extensive public inquiry into the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat. It concluded in April that the disappearances were enforced and that Bukit Aman’s Special Branch was responsible.

Koh was abducted by several men in broad daylight in February 2017 and the Perlis-based Amri went missing in late 2016.

Early this month, the home ministry said it was still waiting for a full report from a special task force established to investigate Suhakam’s finding.