By Tarani Palani | The Edge Malaysia

Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan — THE EDGE/SHAHRIN YAHYA

The Sessions Court has set July 21 to deliver its decision on former Bersatu information chief Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s application to strike out two graft charges against him involving the Jana Wibawa initiative.

Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob set the date after listening to submissions from the defence and prosecution for about an hour on Tuesday (June 27) afternoon.

The Tasek Gelugor member of Parliament (MP) applied to strike out the charges last month, claiming these were groundless and defective. His lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said they made the application after informing the prosecution that the charges were defective but received no reply.

On Tuesday, Amer Hamzah argued that the application was made under section 173(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code and that they were asking for a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) per the section.

He further argued that this application can be made at any point in time and not just limited to the end of the prosecution’s stage of a trial.

“Under section 173(g), should the court find the charges defective at the beginning of a case, the court has the discretion to give an order of DNAA,” he said.

With a DNAA, Wan Saiful can be charged again for the same offence at any time in the future.

As highlighted in previous reports, Amer has argued that both charges only mentioned the months that the offence allegedly occurred, not specific dates, and that this puts the defence at a disadvantage if they were to raise their defence or alibi.

“We are not asking for an actual acquittal at this stage. We respect the rights of the authorities to investigate but until everything is in order, discharge our client. To have these charges hanging over his head (in the meantime), it goes against the principle of law,” he added.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Rasyidah Murni Adzmi, who led the prosecution on Tuesday, objected to Wan Saiful’s application, saying it was premature and that the charges were good in law.

“With regard to the application, it is premature at this stage, as the parties have only declared affidavits, and no oral and documentary evidence has been tendered for the court’s consideration at this stage,” she said.

Further, she added that the prosecution has supplied the defence with sufficient notice and documents, and the defence can prepare their alibi or their statement of defence at any time.

Wan Saiful was charged under section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 with soliciting bribes to help Nepturis Sdn Bhd secure a Central Spine Road project from the federal government through pre-qualification in April 2022.

He was charged with having solicited an unspecified amount for the RM232 million project from a person by the name of Lian Tan Chuan.

He was also charged under section 17(a) of the MACC Act with receiving RM6.96 million through his company’s CIMB Bank account under WSA Advisory Group Sdn Bhd from Nepturis, as an inducement to help Nepturis secure a letter of award for the same project.

The offences were allegedly committed between July 8 and Sept 30 in 2022.  

Both charges under the MACC Act are punishable under section 24 of the same Act, and carry a sentence of up to 20 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times the amount of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.