PUTRAJAYA, 7 Jan 2009: After almost 10 years of waiting, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Mohamed Azmin Ali today felt a measure of relief after the Court of Appeal here upheld a lower court’s decision to acquit and discharge him of perjury.
Justice Datuk Md Raus Sharif, who led the three-member panel comprising also Justices Datuk Ahmad Ma’arop and Datuk Sulaiman Daud, dismissed the prosecution’s appeal against the High Court’s decision which reinstated the lower court’s decision to acquit and discharge Mohamed Azmin from the charge.
In the unanimous decision, Justice Md Raus ruled that the evidence by the Magistrate who was recorded Mohamed Azmin’s statement while he was in remand proceedings, during the trial in the Sessions Court had cast reasonable doubt on the case.
Therefore, Justice Md Raus said, Mohamad Azmin should not make his defence against the perjury charge in the Sessions Court.
Speaking to the media after the decision, Mohamed Azmin, 42, said it was a big relief for him after waiting for almost 10 years and the decision showed that he did not commit the offence.
Mohamed Azmin, who was accompanied by his wife Shamsidar Taharin and a few PKR supporters, also said that the decision today which affirmed his acquittal was fair and he thanked his lawyers for their efforts.
On 13 July 1999, Mohamed Azmin was freed by Sessions Court Judge Hamdan Indah from a charge of giving false evidence as the 14th defence witness during the re-examination stage of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s trial in the High Court in Jalan Raja on 9 March 1999. This resulted in the prosecution appealing against the decision to the High Court.
High Court Judge Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail allowed the prosecution’s appeal and ordered for the case to be remitted to the Sessions Court for Mohamed Azmin to enter his defence.
Sessions Court Judge Akhtar Tahir found Mohamed Azmin guilty and sentenced him to 18 months’ imprisonment.
Akhtar, however, allowed Mohamed Azmin’s application to stay the conviction and sentence pending appeal and also allowed him to be released on bail of RM20,000 with one surety.
Mohamed Azmin appealed to the High Court which, on 1 Nov 2007, reinstated a Sessions Court’s decision to acquit and discharge him from the perjury charge.
Dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, the prosecution appealed to the Court of Appeal.
At the outset, Deputy Public Prosecutor Manoj Kurup, who represented the prosecution, submitted that the second High Court Judge (Justice Abdul Kadir) seriously misdirected himself when he allowed Mohamed Azmin’s appeal on the grounds that the defendant had clearly given false evidence during Anwar’s trial.
“It is a fact that the respondent (Mohamed Azmin) testified under oath in the High Court that he told the Magistrate that he was being forced to implicate Anwar when in fact he did not tell the Magistrate that,” he said.
Manoj said Mohamed Azmin’s statement to the Magistrate, who recorded his statement while he was under remand, contradicted his evidence during Anwar’s trial.
He, therefore, submitted that the second decision made by Sessions Court Judge (Akhtar) who sentenced Mohamed Azmin to 18 months’ imprisonment for a perjury charge was correct.
Mohamed Azmin’s counsel Datuk CV Prabhakaran contended that Mohamed Azmin’s statement recorded while he was under remand was not made under oath.
Hence, he said, there was nothing to indicate that Mohamed Azmin gave false evidence within the meaning of Section 193 of the Penal Code. — Bernama