Ex-chief prosecutor Ho Chio Meng’s defence lawyer Leong Weng Pun and his team resigned on Wednesday before the court’s afternoon session began.
Ho faces over 1,500 charges including aggravated fraud, leadership of a criminal organisation, abuse of power, and money laundering.
The morning session of the trial at the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) in Nam Van went ahead as scheduled but the afternoon session was postponed sine die due to Leong’s resignation as Ho’s defence lawyer.
Leong told reporters outside the courthouse that his resignation was not because there was little chance of winning the case. However, he declined to elaborate on his reasons for stepping down.
The court said in statement that Ho was given five days to hire a new lawyer, otherwise one would be appointed for him.
The charge sheet accuses Ho of leading a criminal organisation which made sure that a string of outsourced services and projects for the Public Prosecution Office were granted to a raft of shell companies run by the criminal organisation.
During the morning session, a principal investigator of the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) said that Ho had prior knowledge about which company would be granted the outsourced services, and that the shell company in question would raise the quoted prices.
In defence, Leong presented a document showing that the Public Prosecution Office (MP) had planned to purchase computer software for an estimated price of 10,000 patacas, but the shell company gave a quotation of 8,000 patacas only.
Leong questioned the CCAC investigator why he was so confident in saying that the shell company would raise the prices.
TUI judge Lai Kin Hong said the court should focus on Ho’s criminal conduct instead of what he had done right in the past 15 years.
Leong insisted that he was simply presenting facts to the court, and questioned whether the court was biased. He requested a 10-minute break during the morning session.
The high-profile trial began on December 9. Usually, about three hearings are held every week.