KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today allowed the prosecution’s application to have 11 of its 37 witnesses in the trial of former Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) director-general Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid to testify in camera.
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh said he allowed the application in the interest of national security.
“The prosecution would be exposing national security matters to public gaze and extensive media coverage should the evidence of the 11 prospective witnesses are taken in open court,” he added.
He said the decision was also made after taking into consideration the affidavit affirmed by the Director General of the Research Division of the Prime Minister’s Department.
The affidavit, he said, stated, among others, that if the trial is not held in camera, the identities of the prospective witnesses will be laid bare to the public.
“This will compromise their ability to effectively perform their duties in the interest of national security and could even expose them to grave danger.
“Also, the credibility of the Research Department of the Prime Minister’s Department will be severely effected and its covert functions will be very much clipped and crippled.
“Based on this reasons, I find that the applicant had satisfied this court of the expediency to hear the evidence of the 11 prospective witnesses in camera in the interest of national security. I hereby allow the application. The evidence of the 11 witnesses shall be held in camera,” he added.
Ahmad Shahrir said in the interest of a fair administration of justice, it is the duty of the court to exercise powers as provided for under the Courts of Judicature Act to direct that certain parts of the trial be held in camera.
“In doing so, I do not find that the respondent (Hasanah) would be prejudice in any manner in effectively advancing her defence...It is still open to the respondent, during the cross-examination, to put her defence across to the prospective 11 witnesses,” he added.
On Oct 25, 2018, Hasanah, 62, pleaded not guilty to a charge of committing CBT amounting to US$12.1 (RM50.4 million) in funds belonging to the government when serving as the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Department Research Division.
She was charged with committing the offence at the office of the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department (JPM) in Putrajaya between April 30 to May 9 2018.
The woman was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code which provides for a maximum of 20 years jail and whipping as well as fine if found guilty. — Bernama