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Malaysia's ruling party chief Zahid cleared in bribery case

Acquittal could loosen PM Ismail Sabri's grip on candidacy in next election

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malaysia's former deputy prime minister and current president of the ruling UMNO, has been cleared of 40 charges, though he still faces dozens more.   © Reuters

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia -- A Malaysian high court on Friday acquitted Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the ruling party's current president and a former deputy prime minister, of 40 charges of corruption and abuse of power -- a decision that could raise questions about Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob's future as an election candidate.

Zahid, the president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), was cleared by the court in Shah Alam without needing to enter a defense, as the prosecution failed to meet the prima-facie standard and vital witnesses were deemed unreliable.

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