Ex-Immigration director-general jailed for graft

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Former Immigration Depart-ment director-general Datuk Wahid Md Don has been convicted by the same Sessions Court judge who had earlier acquitted him.

Sessions Court judge Rosbiahanin Arifin found Wahid guilty of corruption involving visa applications for 4,337 Bangladeshis, and sentenced him to six years in prison and a RM300,000 (S$118,000) fine.

She found that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt and its arguments were merely an afterthought.

Rosbiahanin also impeached Wahid's evidence, thus agreeing with the prosecution's stand that the contradictions between Wahid's statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and his testimony in court made him a suspect witness.

Wahid, 59, appeared stoic when the judgment was handed down and was seen speaking to his wife while in the dock, before being led out of the courtroom.

Counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram applied for a stay of execution against the jail time and fine, pending an appeal against the Sessions Court's decision.

However, Rosbiahanin denied both points of the stay application, despite MACC legal and prosecution division director Datuk Abdul Razak Musa only objecting to the stay of jail time.

The decision comes as an about-turn, as Rosbiahanin had acquitted Wahid of his charges at the end of the prosecution stage on Oct 15, 2010.

The MACC had appealed against the decision, but on May 31 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court upheld RosĀ­biahanin's earlier judgment that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case.

However, the case was remitted to the lower court when the MACC's appeal was allowed by the Court of Appeal.

The panel, led by Justice Abu Samah Nordin, unanimously found that the Sessions Court had erred in its finding that the presumption of Wahid's corruption could be rebutted without hearing his defence.

Wahid was first charged on Aug 19, 2008, with agreeing to accept a RM60,000 bribe from businessman Datuk Low Chang Hian as part of the payment to expedite the approval of visa applications for 4,337 Bangladeshis to enable them to enter Malaysia.

He is accused of committing the offence in Jalan Lembah Ledang, off Jalan Duta here, at 10.15pm on July 10, 2008, while still a director-general.

His lawyer Sithambaram filed for an appeal against the Sessions Court's decision yesterday.

He told reporters that he would be applying to the High Court for a stay of execution and to bail his client, but in the interim, Wahid would be sent to Kajang prison.

Wahid, who served 35 years in governĀ­ment service, has since retired.