Court upholds former JKR employees’ bribery conviction

|     Fadley Faisal     |

THE High Court dismissed an appeal against conviction on bribery against two former Public Works Department (JKR) employees on finding no reasons to disturb the trial court’s findings, while allowing reductions in their sentences, citing the delay in prosecuting the case as well as the lengthy trial.

During an appeals hearing, the court decided to grant the defendants discounts on their sentences and upheld their bribery convictions.

Chief Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong found no basis to overturn the charges of bribery against Ramli bin Timbang and Sunie bin Timbang.

Ramli, a former storekeeper at the Department of Water Services, JKR, received BND12,857 from a Malaysian national working at a company as reward for granting his company a contract to install CCTV systems at the Tasek Lama and Mengkubau water treatment plants.

Sunie, a former senior technical assistant at the same JKR Department, meanwhile, received BND400 from this same Malaysian national, an individual whom he knew to have connections to the official functions of his job.

The Magistrate’s Court handed down 18-month jail terms to the duo after finding the prosecution’s case against them to be beyond the court’s reasonable doubt during trial.

Ramli was also ordered to settle a BND12,857 fine, or serve an additional three months’ jail in default.

Ramli, however, urged the High Court to reduce his sentence, on the grounds of his deteriorating medical condition.

The court agreed to his reasoning, with the Chief Justice stating, “The prosecution rightly concedes that it would not be in the interest of justice for [Ramli] to remain in prison [and] considering the exceptional circumstances of this case, it is appropriate as an act of judicial mercy to reduce the sentence of [Ramli] so as to allow him to be released from prison custody immediately.”

With regard to his decision to reduce Sunie’s sentence to 15 month’s jail, the Chief Justice said, “It is argued by counsel that the Magistrate failed to take into account the delay of about five years in the prosecution and a further delay of nearly four years in completing the trial.”

However, the Chief Justice revised the sentence for Sunie, ordering him to settle a BND400 fine, or serve a month’s jail in default, on finding that the Magistrate had overlooked handing this penalty against Sunie during sentencing.

The two defendants hired lawyers Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Harif Ibrahim and Daud Ismail in the High Court appeal, while DPP Shamshuddin bin Haji Kamaluddin stood as respondent.