GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here on Monday granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal on former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon over their corruption charges, two years ago.
This followed an application made by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud to the court, based on a representation sent by the defence to the Attorney-General to withdraw the case, on July 6.
Masri had applied for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
Lim’s lead counsel, Ramkarpal Singh, and Phang’s lead counsel, Datuk V. Sithambaram, had requested for a full acquittal.
Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, in her judgment, agreed with the counsels that the charges “cannot be hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely.”
She stressed that there must be “finality.”
She said a total of 25 witnesses had been called and the case was last heard in March.
“The court cannot be slow. After six months, the prosecution has not proceeded with the matter. We do not conduct cases on installment. There must be a stop. No commas.
“The charge cannot be left hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely. We cannot be waiting for another six months for the case to proceed.
“I cannot agree with the prosecution’s application because by doing so the court cannot close the case file. That cannot be the case. If we want to proceed, then we should proceed from A to Z.
“So after studying the whole case, and the long duration to get the decision, the court orders both accused to be discharged amounting to an acquittal,” she said.
Earlier, Masri told the court that they had studied the defence’s representation and the prosecution decided to withdraw the case under provisions of Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“This withdrawal is however a discharge not amounting to an acquittal,” he said.
Ramkarpal then argued that the prosecution’s application meant that there would not be a “full stop” to the case, but merely a postponement.
“We can understand that if they can’t get witnesses. However, the prosecution has indicated that they do not wish to proceed with the case at all.
“So, the proper order should be a full acquittal,” he said.