By Khairah N. Karim | New Straits Times

The High Court allowed Abdul Azeez’s application for a stay of the proceedings pending his appeal at the Court of Appeal to have the case against him to be struck out. – MOHD FADLI HAMZAH/NSTP

The ongoing trial of former Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim on three counts of receiving kickbacks and 10 money-laundering charges pertaining to road projects has been postponed.

The High Court allowed Abdul Azeez’s application for a stay of the proceedings pending his appeal at the Court of Appeal to have the case against him to be struck out.

Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin allowed the application after finding that there were special circumstances warranting a stay until the appeal is disposed of.

“I have heard submissions from the defence counsel and read the affidavit supporting the application.

“The prosecution also did not object to the application and in such circumstances, the court is more inclined to allow this application. The application is therefore allowed,” the judge said.

Earlier, Abdul Azeez’s counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad submitted that it was important for the appeal to be heard first.

He said in the event the defence succeeds in the appeal, it would put an end to the entire trial and it would save the court’s time, costs and the need to call in all the other witnesses in the case.

“The fact that the prosecution did not object to the stay application shows that they appreciate the dynamics of the proceedings that there is no prejudice to the state.

“There would be no prejudice to the prosecution, rather it will prejudice the applicant if the stay is not allowed,” he said, adding case management of the appeal has been fixed for June 8 at the Court of Appeal.

Deputy public prosecutor Adam Mohamed told the court that the prosecution has no objections against the application.

“For the record. We received the notice of appeal and affidavit on April 9. We have also received instructions (from the Attorney General’s Chambers) not to object to the application,” he said.

Abdul Azeez filed the application for a stay of his trial on April 8.

On Dec 11, last year, the Baling member of Parliament filed an application to strike out the 13 charges against him, claiming that the charges were defective, groundless and made in bad faith.

The court had on March 12 dismissed the application after finding that the accused had failed to show how he was confused and being prejudiced by the lack of particularisation of the charges.

The defence had on the same day filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal against the decision.

On Jan 16, 2019, Abdul Azeez was 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 offences 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.

He was initially charged with his brother, Abdul Latif, 63, who was accused with abetting him (Azeez) 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 project involved the Pantai Baru Coastal Expressway Project, upgrading works of Federal Road FT005 ( Teluk Intan to Kampung Lekir, Perak) valued at RM644,480,000.

However, on Feb 8, Abdul Latif was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) of the abetment charges to become a witness against his brother.

So far, seven prosecution witnesses have testified in the trial which began on Aug 19, last year.