IMPORTANT LETTER WITHDRAWN IN PHUA CASE
06th January, 2015 at 00:10:04
Hours after submission, Phua's defence team pulls letter from Malaysian minister.
The Paul Phua case gets more intriguing by the day as prosecutors and defence lawyers engage in technical duelling about the conduct of the FBI in the original sting operation, and more recently a letter from a Malaysian minister certifying that Phua is not (as had been claimed by the FBI) associated with organised crime triads (see previous reports).
Entered in the court record by the defence team, the letter from Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was withdrawn within hours as the prosecution complained and something of a political storm blew up in Malaysia over the minister's perceived support for Phua.
The Malaysian government has reportedly objected to the use of the letter, which revealed that Phua assists the Malaysian government on security matters, claiming that its contents were not meant for public disclosure.
Phua is facing major online gambling charges in the United States following an FBI bust on three Caesars Palace casino resort villas mid-2014 (see previous reports).
The media in Asia is giving the unfolding case significant exposure, noting that the FBI's claim that Phua was a leading member of an organised crime triad was spurious and based on an unofficial six-year-old exchange between an unidentified Malaysian police officer and an Asia-based FBI agent.
Why Phua's high-powered defence team withdrew the Malaysian minister's letter is not clear from the many reports on the issue emanating from Asia and the United States, but it is known that the US Justice Department prosecutors objected to its use on technical grounds.
Expect more fireworks as the case continues, as it appears that both sides have used the media to strengthen their legal positions, and more backfires could be on the way.
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