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FORMER deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has claimed that his five meetings with Dr Mahathir Mohamad from 2018 to 2020 were not to discuss criminal cases against him but to resolve the political issues in the country at the time.
Zahid, 69, claims that during several of the meetings, Dr Mahathir suggested and urged him to dissolve Umno and that Umno members (especially Umno MPs and assemblymen) to join Dr Mahathir in Bersatu.
The five meetings were held between June 7, 2018 and February 25, 2020 at several locations, including Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya.
Zahid, who filed a response to Dr Mahathir’s statement, claims that the meetings with Dr Mahathir were not only attended by himself but by other Umno Supreme Council members at the time, including Mohamad Hasan, Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Mahdzir Khalid.
Zahid alleges that the meetings were held after Umno grassroots members agitated for change in the party’s direction and discussed possible cooperation, both in the short term and long term, between Umno and Bersatu.
“At the meetings, however, the defendant (Dr Mahathir) urged me to dissolve Umno and join Bersatu.
“Therefore, the defendant’s claim that I was making an effort to discuss about the criminal cases against me are untrue and baseless,” Zahid alleges in his response filed on May 31.
On May 17, Dr Mahathir alleged in his defence statement that Zahid had voiced his concern over criminal cases he faced during several meetings they had between 2018 and 2020.
In a lawsuit filed on April 20, Zahid said he was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with 12 counts of criminal breach of trust, eight counts of bribery and 27 counts of money laundering on October 18, 2018 and all charges are being heard at the High Court.
Zahid claims that Dr Mahathir made slanderous statements against him at a Pejuang event in the run-up of the Johor state elections at Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya on February 23.
The Bagan Datuk MP claims that defamatory statements made against him implied that he was trying to use shortcuts to resolve or postpone his ongoing criminal cases and to use his position and influence to induce Dr Mahathir to intervene in criminal proceedings and interfere with the investigation conducted by enforcement agencies against him.
Zahid also filed an inter-parte motion for an interim injunction so that the defendant withdraws the slanderous statements and to stop them from publishing, distributing or circulating them or any similar defamatory statements on any social media platform.