Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib shielded his face from photographers as he left the Sessions Court here today. Pix by Malai Rosmah Tuah

KOTA KINABALU: It will take at least another six months before the trial for three people involved in the Sabah multi-million ringgit graft scandal can begin.

Sessions Court judge Abu Bakar Manat today fixed Feb 5 to 9, and 20 to 23; as well as March 5 to 8, and 19 to 22, as the new trial dates.

The trial for former Sabah Water Department (SWD) director Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, 54; his wife Fauziah Piut, 51; and retired SWD deputy director, Lim Lam Beng, 62; were initially scheduled to begin in July but were postponed to iron out technicalities.

The couple had pleaded not guilty to 31 money-laundering charges involving RM59.1 million, as well as claiming trial to two counts of possessing 575 pieces of jewellery and 346 other valuable items, acquired through illegal means.

Lim meanwhile was charged with four counts of money-laundering involving RM2.38 million.

Abu Bakar announced the decision after taking account the request by counsel PJ Pereira, who represented Awang Tahir and Fauziah for at least six months in additional time to prepare the accountants' reports, and Lim’s counsel Karpaljit Singh who said his client has yet to appoint the lead counsel.

“Our trial dates have been fully occupied this year (which the court) needs to finish off.

“Based on the explanations of both counsels and since the court has no free available dates, we will proceed with these new dates next year.

“Since there is ample time to settle everything, there will be no more changes (of dates) unless there is a near-death situation and we will just proceed with the trial this time.

“I am also fixing pre-trial case management on November 29 to finalise everything,” said Abu Bakar.

Deputy Public Prosecutor from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Tengku Amir Zaki Tengku Abdul Rahman meanwhile said there are 215 witnesses in the final list to be called during the trial.

Meanwhile, Pereira said his client Awang Tahir, who is currently required to report to the MACC office here fortnightly, has asked for the visits to be reduced to once a month.

Abu Bakar, in response, said they need to make application directly with MACC.

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