Zahid’s discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) is not viewed in a positive light with many thinking he’s getting away scot-free.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court granted Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) for all 47 graft charges involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds on Monday, 4 September.
A DNAA is usually requested when the prosecution sees that it has insufficient evidence to secure a conviction and a further investigation is warranted.
However, this was not the case for Zahid as Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah had ruled in January 2022 that the prosecution had successfully proved a prima facie case against Zahid. It was then on Zahid to raise reasonable doubt in the case to establish his innocence.
With Zahid granted a DNAA, many people are worried that he might get away scot-free for his alleged crimes. In addition, there is still a misunderstanding between a discharged and acquitted (DNA) and DNAA.
According to legal experts, DNAA does not mean the accused is completely free or innocent. Those accused of crimes but are released from the charges can still be called back to court at any time to face the same charge again.
Legal adviser of Universiti Teknologi Mara, Haidar Dziyauddin, explained to MalaysiaNow that a DNAA can help the prosecution to restart the case with stronger evidence which “cannot be challenged by the defendant.”
In short, a DNAA gives the prosecution and relevant parties such as MACC time to conduct a detailed investigation.
Negative reactions to Zahid’s ruling
Nevertheless, Zahid’s DNAA has garnered varied reactions, especially on the critical side. Some felt that the ruling made a mockery of the country’s justice system.
After all, the case spanned 77 trial days over nearly four years and had seen 114 witnesses testify in court at the enormous expense to the taxpayer.
Due to this, it doesn’t come as a surprise when the public is demanding a reason for Zahid’s release from the charges.
This has been echoed by several people such as Transport Minister Anthony Loke who called on the Attorney General to explain the factors that led to Zahid’s acquittal to restore the public’s confidence in the justice system.
The Govt must always see itself as a beacon of judicial morals if it's to have the Trust of the people.— Dzulkefly Ahmad (@DrDzul) September 5, 2023
Yes, for the sake of the RAKYAT & Trust in the REFORM AGENDA, despite whatever said earlier..
"the AG must publicly explain why Zahid granted DNAA"
Yes 👍 I don't get why some people choose to blame PM when AG decided this. AG should be scrutinized and asked to justify his decisions.— Syukur (@ubimanis) September 5, 2023
Absolutely ridiculous— Nimalan Devaraja (@Nimalan21) September 4, 2023
The Defence has been called. There is absolutely no reason for the Prosecution to apply for a DNAA once they are shown to have proven their case.
This is absolutely disappointing and a full and detailed explanation must be givenhttps://t.co/l4VzdwOsu5
Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim lamented that the verdict would have an impact on the people’s trust in the legal system.
Hassan included a poem to illustrate his disappointment with the ruling, questioning the different standards for the elites and for the average citizen.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not refer to the case directly but sarcastically criticised the legal system in the country.
THE RULE OF LAW— Dr Mahathir Mohamad (@chedetofficial) September 5, 2023
1. Laws made by man can be changed or reinterpreted.
2. Thus in the good old days in England stealing was punished by death by hanging from a gibbet in public view.
3. Today the death penalty cannot be given even for murder. That is the new rule of law.
Perikatan Nasional leader Dr Afif Bahardin also referred to Zahid’s verdict during a campaign trail in Kempas and asked whether the Chinese wanted this government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
I want to tell the non-Malays, the Malays have rejected the corrupt (perasuah). To the non-Malays, are you willing to let the country be ruled by a corrupt regime? Are you willing to jeopardise the future of our children?Perikatan Nasional leader Dr Afif Bahardin
Is there a way to restore the public’s trust?
Electoral watchdog Bersih has called on the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to review Zahid’s DNAA and called on them to reveal the possible new charges or new directions of investigation they are studying against Zahid.
Bersih added that the prosecution also owes an explanation to the public as to why a DNAA application was made when a prima facie case has already been established.
If there is no plan for new charges, then this might be amounting to providing an escape route for Zahid to apply for full acquittal within months.Bersih said in a statement
Bersih also urged Anwar to immediately announce a clear roadmap and objective for the separation of the Public Prosecutor and the AGC.
Currently, the AG is a political appointee advising the government who also serves as a public prosecutor who holds the power to initiate or drop criminal charges.
Bersih’s stance is that this power can be abused or weaponised for political reasons.