Case Trial on Former Judicial Officers

The trial against Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Retired Colonel Hj Abdul Rahman and Hj Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin continued in the High Court today. Simon Farrell QC read out a statement of a private legal practitioner attesting to the good character of the Second Defendant. In the statement, the practitioner stated that in his professional interactions with the Second Defendant, the latter had acted very professionally and was firm but fair with everyone he dealt with.

In their personal interactions, their conversations veered towards issues of law and religion. Since knowing him in 1997, the legal practitioner found no occasion to cause him to question or doubt the Second Defendant's professionalism, honesty or integrity. The Defendants did not call any other witnesses and closed their cases today.

The Court has previously heard from the Second Defendant that he advised the First Defendant on several occasions to declare the receipt of cash gifts from the Malaysian lady to the former Chief Justice. The First Defendant told the Second Defendant on several occasions that she had done so and that the former Chief Justice had approved her retention of the cash gifts. According to the Second Defendant, envelopes in which those cash gifts were given have been taken by the former Chief Justice on some occasions.

These were information which were never made known prior to the Second Defendant testifying in Court. There was only a single reference to the former Chief Justice in a statement by the First Defendant that she heard him sending the former Chief Registrar to witness the signing of documents. The reference was not in relation to the First Defendant at all.

There was no way for the Prosecution to have foreseen the Second Defendant's evidence and made the decision to call the former Chief Justice as a Prosecution witness during its case. Therefore, it is essential for the Court now to hear the evidence in order to determine the issues fairly. Jonathan Caplan QC had also informed the Court that the former Chief Justice was ready to give evidence today and gave sight of the statement he prepared in rebuttal.

Simon Farrell QC objected to the application on the grounds that both the Prosecution and the Defence has closed their case. The evidence of the former Chief Justice is not a rebuttal evidence as it does not contradict what the Second Defendant said as to his knowledge. He submitted that the calling of the witness could have reasonably been foreseen by the Prosecution and should have been called as part of their case. For the defence, the evidence is not essential for a just decision in the Defendants' case.

Having heard from both the Prosecution and Defence, Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson was satisfied that the Prosecution could not have reasonably foreseen the need of the former Chief Justice as part of their case.

However, he considered that the evidence the Prosecution intends to call does not rebut the Defendants' case and is not essential to the just decision of the case. As such, the Court ruled that the evidence should not be allowed. Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson allowed time for both parties to make their final submissions. The Prosecution will lodge their submissions by 21st November 2019 and the Defence will lodge theirs on 13th December 2019.

The case will convene again on 9th January 2020 at 9 a.m. to hear any further oral submissions on the case. The Court's judgment will be delivered in mid-January 2020. Jonathan Caplan QC and Deputy Public Prosecutors Hjh Suhana Hj Sudin, Hjh Suriana Hj Radin, Dk Didi-Nuraza Pg Hj Abdul Latiff and Muhammad Qamarul Affyian bin Abdul Rahman appeared for the Public Prosecutor. Simon Farrell, QC and Sheikh Noordin Sheikh Mohammad, appeared for the defendants.

Source: Radio Television Brunei

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