TRIALS are often very complex, with considerable amounts of evidence to be considered in respect of events that may have occurred a significant time prior.
The charges may encompass events alleged to have occurred as part of a wider conspiracy, across borders or over a considerable time span.
A variety of complex legal issues may also arise during such a trial, including getting the cooperation of witnesses who are overseas, issues of disclosure and the use of sensitive evidence.
Thus, given the seriousness of the charges presently against several political actors in the country, the stakes are high.
Ensuring the fairness of proceedings at all stages is an obligation where all must adhere to during the entire judicial process.
Justice must be administered openly as it is of equal importance to the accused and the public in general, to reassure both parties of the standards applied.
Openness to public scrutiny will act as an additional safeguard to protect against improper procedure.
The justice system is tied more to the perceived fairness of the process and rather than to the perceived fairness of the outcome.
In the call for a fair trial, accusations were made in a blog that a presiding judge received an alleged payment and also has prior knowledge of the matter he presided on when he was under employment in his previous job.,
Reports were thus lodged with various authorities. The presiding judge also lodged a report with the police.
On April 23, it was reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner confirmed it had commenced an investigation on the presiding judge on allegations of unexplained money in his account.
On May 18, a retired Court of Appeal judge publicly called on MACC to provide an update on the probe, citing public interest as the person being investigated is a judge.
Three days later, MACC said it had submitted its investigation paper to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further instructions.
On May 23, the AG, in a response to an enquiry from an online news portal, said his office is still perusing the investigation paper before any decision is made.
In the meantime, separately, in early May, two lawyers and an activist filed an originating summons to seek a declaration that the investigation conducted by MACC against the judge is unconstitutional.
In the hearing on June 23, the High Court set July 19 to decide on the application.
The justice system must constantly be demonstrating its legitimacy to the public it serves.
If the public ceases to view its justice system as legitimate, there will be dire consequences.
Former AG Tommy Thomas had on July 3 said the country’s judicial system needs a revamp as it is being exploited.
If the High Court were to rule in favour of the application by the two lawyers and an activist on July 19, would this matter be closed and the public not know the allegation?