Contractor maintains innocence on $190,000 bribery charge

JOHOR BARU - A contractor refused to change his not guilty plea in the Sessions Court here to a charge of offering a RM500,000 (S$192,220) bribe to a high ranking police officer.

Zulkifli Ali, 49, had pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him for the first time before Sessions Court registrar Norhidayah Abdul Manaf on Aug 14.

When he was brought before Judge Mohamad Haldar Abdul Aziz yesterday, he again pleaded not guilty despite the judge advising him to concentrate on his drug case in another court in Muar.

"You need to pay more attention and focus on your drug charge. However, the court will accept your plea on the bribery charge," Mohamad Haldar told Zulkifli.

Zulkifli then reiterated that he was innocent and said he would not change his stand because he had never offered the bribe to the police officer.

He was alleged to have offered the bribe to the Muar Narcotics Criminal Investigation Division chief, ASP Abdul Ghani Talib, as an inducement not to detain him under Section 39(B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 for purportedly trafficking in 21.5kg of heroin.

Zulkifli has been charged in a Muar Magistrate's Court with drug trafficking. The charge carries a mandatory death sentence if he is found guilty.

As for the bribery charge, he could be jailed a maximum of 20 years or fined five times the amount of the bribe, or both, if found guilty.

Both offences were allegedly committed at an apartment in Block C, Pangsapuri Indah, on Jalan Salleh in Muar at 2.45pm on April 12.

Mohamad Haldar set Sept 18 for the next mention of the case and advised Zulkifli, who was not represented, to hire a lawyer soon. Malaysian Anti-Corruption ComĀ­mission officer Ridzuan Abdul Malik acted for the prosecution.