Ex-spy chief objects to prosecution’s bid for ‘in camera’ hearing

Former intelligence chief Hasanah Ab Hamid is accused of misappropriating RM50 million in government funds.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former intelligence chief Hasanah Ab Hamid, who is facing a RM50 million criminal breach of trust charge, today objected to the prosecution’s bid to hold her trial before the High Court “in camera”.

Her lawyer, Hamdan Hamzah, said the defence objected on grounds that there was insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to say the country’s national security could be “jeopardised” by the testimonies presented by witnesses.

“In their affidavits, the prosecution contended that the country’s foreign relationship with other countries will be put in jeopardy if this trial is held in open court.

“We say that there is no evidence that the testimonies will be manipulated as the affidavits’ evidence on the foreign relationship is speculation,” he said.

The prosecution previously told the court it wanted to hold closed-door proceedings for Hasanah’s trial on grounds of national security.

Hamdan also said holding “in camera” proceedings will be prejudicial to Hasanah because the defence will be in the dark over the testimonies of the 11 potential witnesses.

Co-counsel Suhaimi Ibrahim told the court it should make a decision on the matter under Section 15(1) of Courts of Judicature Act as it should not be a decision of the prosecution.

“The national security grounds cited by the prosecution are not sufficient for the court to make such a decision,” he said.

Deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad informed the court it is making an “unprecedented” move to hold “in camera” proceedings for the 11 witnesses from the Prime Minister’s Office as it involved a “highly coveted agency”.

“The witnesses’ safety could be in danger if their identities are made known to the public,” he said.

Judicial commissioner Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh said he will decide on the prosecution’s application tomorrow.

“We will start the trial tomorrow, regardless of whether this application is dismissed or allowed,” he said.

Hasanah, who previously led the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation, is accused of misappropriating RM50 million in government funds she was entrusted with between April 30 and May 9, 2018.

She faces a fine and a jail term of between two and 20 years, if convicted.