Many well-meaning Malaysians are very upset – justifiably so – that Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi has been released from all 47 serious and damning charges when he was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).
Is that the only way to halt court proceedings? Obviously not! Why then did the attorney general choose this path?
The High Court’s decision to grant a DNAA for Zahid’s case followed the prosecution stating it wished to temporarily stop prosecuting the case pending further investigations.
If the reason was to “temporarily stop” the prosecution of Zahid, why then free him of all the 47 charges? Couldn’t a request for a postponement have served the intention to temporarily stop the proceedings? That would have been a sensible and justifiable decision to take.
Why are we upset with the DNAA? A temporary stop would have meant the case will definitely continue and therefore a postponement would have served that purpose. A DNAA means the case may not resume. We are aware of many cases of politicians released on DNAA who have not been recharged and their cases then landed in cold storage!
As it stands, the attorney general is not bound to recharge Zahid in the future. No law compels him to do that!
This is the fear that is upsetting, causing anger and fuelling frustration among many. Will the prosecution resume Zahid’s case in the near future? We doubt it! It will be goodbye to all the 47 charges!
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Much is made of the granting of a DNAA to justify the deputy public prosecutor’s decision to withdraw all the 47 charges.
The Attorney General’s Chambers said the grounds it presented before High Court judge Collin Sequerah were deemed “cogent” and accepted by the court. Meaning, the court was persuaded to grant the DNAA.
Seriously, did the judge have any choice? Could the judge have refused to accept the grounds cited by the attorney general? Could he have insisted the case had to go on? But how could he, when there was no case pending before him?
He had no choice but to grant the application as there was no case before him when the attorney general withdrew charges under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 254(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Any argument that the court was with the attorney general in this matter is misleading. The only choice the judge had was either to grant the DNAA as requested by the prosecution or to acquit Zahid as appealed by the defence lawyer.
The sole decision to withdraw the case was the entire prerogative of the attorney general. The judge could not stop this or insist on proceeding with the case.
The judge was aware that Zahid might not be recharged.
The judge must have been conscious of this possibly when he said: “Should the prosecution decide in the near future that they will not proceed any further with the charges, then much precious judicial time… and a great amount of taxpayers’ money would also have been wasted.”
The attorney general has an obligation to inform us why he didn’t ask for a postponement instead. He needs to clarify why a DNAA was necessary. Was it to set free Zahid?
Can he assure us that Zahid will be recharged soon and he will have to face the law in the near future? We get this nasty feeling we have been taken for a ride!