Charges against Azeez are in bad faith, says lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR: The corruption and money laundering charges filed against Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim were done in bad faith, the High Court heard today.

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) officers arrested and detained Azeez for invesigations over Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) matters but he was later charged with something else.

“As an MP, this damaged his reputation and amounted to character assassination,” Amer said in his submission to strike out the charges against Azeez, a former TH board chairman.

Amer said MACC had raided his client’s house soon after the 14th general election on May 12, 2018.

“Five months later, he was arrested and detained for investigation and the narrative was that it had to do with Tabung Haji,” he said, adding that the prosecution did not deny MACC’s unlawful action.

Azeez and his brother Latif were charged in early 2019 and in September last year the prosecution amended the charges.

Azeez, 54, is charged with three counts of accepting bribes totalling RM5.2 million in connection with road projects in Perak and Kedah as well as 10 counts of money laundering.

He is accused of committing the offence at CIMB Bank, Jalan Tun Perak in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 8, 2010, and at Affin Bank, Pusat Bandar Puchong in Selangor on June 13, 2017, and April 10, 2018, while the money laundering offences were allegedly committed in the Klang Valley area between March 8, 2010, and Aug 30, 2018.

Latif, 63, was accused of abetting him in obtaining a RM4 million bribe from Mohammad Redzuan Mohanan Abdullah as gratification to help Syarikat Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd secure road projects through limited tender from the works ministry.

The projects involved the Pantai Baru Coastal Expressway and the upgrading works of Federal Road FT005 (Teluk Intan to Kampung Lekir, Perak) valued at RM644.5 million.

In December, Azeez, who is also an Umno Supreme Council member, filed an application in the High Court to quash all charges.

However, last month, the prosecution withdrew the charge against Latif in the midst of the trial in the sessions court.

Amer said the charges against Azeez were defective and groundless as they did not follow procedures in the Criminal Procedure Code, although they were amended last September.

“The charges are unclear due to the change to the factual matrix of the case,” he said.

Amer said all the prosecution needed to do was to withdraw, and asked for Azeez to be acquitted of the present charges.

“The prosecution is entitled to frame fresh charges,” he added.

Deputy public prosecutor Aslinda Ahad said the application to quash the charges was an abuse of court process.

“There is no miscarriage of justice and the application to strike out the charges is premature,” she said, adding that the trial had started with the prosecution having called five witnesses.

She said the prosecution should be allowed the opportunity to prove its case.

“They cannot apply for the charges to be dropped on the basis they are defective and groundless,” she said, claiming it was a delaying tactic to stall the trial although Azeez was charged two years ago.

Aslinda said the defence had been silent when the charges were amended with the permission of the trial judge in the sessions court.

High Court Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin will deliver his decision on March 12. — Free Malaysia Today

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