PUTRAJAYA (Nov 16): Bagan member of Parliament (MP) and former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s graft trial linked to the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project will remain at the Sessions Court.
This came on the heels of a Court of Appeal (CoA) bench, chaired by Justice Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin, dismissing his appeal to transfer the trial from the Sessions Court to the High Court after it found that the two questions of law posed by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo had already been decided by the Federal Court.
At times the prosecution and defence may prefer a trial to be held at the High Court, as it is perceived that High Court judges posses more experiences and legal acumen compared to the Sessions Courts.
If the trial starts at the Sessions Court, the final point of appeal would be at the Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, if the trial began at the High Court, the final appeal can be heard at the Federal Court.
Justices Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Datuk Hashim Hamzah were the other members of the bench.
Justice Ruzima, who delivered the ruling, said Lim’s trial could remain at the Sessions Court as the highest court in the land (Federal Court) had decided on the questions of law raised by Gobind.
“The appellant (Lim) has failed to pass the boundary or threshold needed to transfer his trial from the Sessions Court to the High Court. The High Court’s decision to dismiss the appellant’s application was correct and does not need to be changed.
“We are of the view that the appellant’s use of Section 417 [of the Criminal Procedural Code] specifically to transfer his trial to the High Court on the basis of bringing an appeal to the Federal Court is not allowed.
“With that, the appellant’s appeal is dismissed and the High Court judge’s decision is upheld,” he said.
As for the other point of law regarding Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, which is related to the witness statement of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, it had already been settled by the Federal Court.
When questioned on whether an appeal at the Federal Court is on the table, Gobind said he will take instruction from his client.
Previously on July 12, 2021, the High Court had dismissed the former Penang chief minister’s application to transfer his undersea tunnel graft trial from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
On Aug 7 last year, Lim was charged in his capacity as the then chief minister of Penang to have solicited gratification to help Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd secure the undersea tunnel project.
He is alleged to have sought 10% of the profit to be made by the company from its senior executive director Zarul.
Subsequently on Aug 10, Lim was charged in the Butterworth Sessions Court with using his position as the then chief minister of Penang to receive RM3.3 million in gratification for himself as an inducement for helping the company secure the project valued at RM6.3 billion.
On Sept 11, the Bagan MP was charged in the same court with two counts of causing two plots of land belonging to the Penang government worth RM208.8 million to be disposed of to two companies that were linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.
The trial is set to continue before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi on Nov 29.