KUALA LUMPUR: Former intelligence chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid can heave a sigh of relief for now. A warrant of arrest issued against her has been cancelled.
The decision by Justice Collin Sequerah was made after her counsel explained in the High Court the reason for her failure to show up for her case mention last week.
Hasanah has been charged with criminal breach of trust involving RM50 million and was to be present in court for her case mention on May 24.
When she failed to turn up, a warrant of arrest was issued against her.
Hasanah’s lawyer Shahrudin Ali told the court that her absence was unintentional. “She was at home at that time, and as her counsel, we overlooked the date and forgot to inform her,“ he said.
He also pointed out the Hasanah’s present was not essential at case management because it is not considered part of the trial and there is no legal basis to issue a warrant of arrest.
Her other counsel K. Balaguru pointed out that there was no such offence as “non-attendance to court” under the law.
Deputy public prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad disputed the counsel’s argument, saying that the law requires an accused person to be present in court.
“Section 172(B) of the Criminal Procedure Code makes it mandatory for an accused to be present in court for case management,“ he said. “I leave it to the court to decide on the warrant.”
Judge Collin ruled that the warrant was cancelled “in light of her unreserved apology to the court. He then instructed Hasanah and one of her bailors to turn up for future proceedings.
On Oct 25, last year Hasanah was charged with criminal breach of trust (CBT) of public funds amounting to RM50.4 million for which she claimed trial.
She is accused of misappropriating US$12.1 million (RM50.4 million) belonging to the government during her tenure as the director-general of the Research Division of the Prime Minister’s Department.
She was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code which carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, whipping and fine upon conviction.
Sessions court judge Azman Ahmad then set bail at RM500,000 in two sureties and ordered Hasanah to hand over her passport to the court.
Last Friday (May 24), Collin issued a warrant for Hasanah’s arrest for not turning up for the case management.
In response, Shaharudin issued a statement saying that the defence was instructed to file a criminal application on behalf of Hasanah in what would be a test case.
“The central issue is whether or not pre-trial case management is a ‘trial’ and is there power to issue the said warrant of arrest under the CPC (Criminal Procedure Code) in the first place,“ Shaharudin said. “Is it justified under existing laws and in a situation where a large amount of bail has been posted?” he said.