The corruption trial of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and business woman Phang Li Koon has been postponed by the Penang High Court in George Town today due to a pending appeal.
Judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail allowed an application for a stay filed by defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo pending the duo’s appeal at the Court of Appeal to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act as unconstitutional.
The judge has postponed all hearing dates for the graft trial scheduled between March 27 and July 21 this year until the end of the defence appeal process.
On March 7, Judge Hadhariah dismissed an application by Guan Eng and Li Koon to declare Section 62 as invalid and in violation of the Federal Constitution.
The judge had said that Section 62 “does not impede the accused’s rights to a fair trial and that the burden still lies on the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.”
Section 62 requires the defence’s statement and documents, which would be tendered as evidence, to be delivered to the prosecution before the start of trial.
Judge Hadhariah then ordered Guan Eng and Li Koon to file their defence in two weeks’ time and set today for case management.
The hearing for the corruption charges against Guan Eng and Li Koon was set to begin on March 27 as fixed by the court previously.
On June 30, last year, Lim was charged with obtaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving the conversion of two lots of agricultural land belonging to Magnificent Emblem into residential development while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.
The offence under Section 23 of the MACC Act carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
He faces another charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code for using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his bungalow in Pinhorn Road from Li Koon at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28, 2015.
The offence is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail or a fine, or both.
Li Koon, who is charged with abetment, faces up to two years in jail or a fine, or both.
Both the accused have pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.