Former national coach acquitted 3rd time of rape charge

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Feb 2020:

A former national aquatics squad coach charged with raping a diving athlete in 2017 has been set free for the third time by the courts today.

High court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ordered Huang Qiang, 38, who had been acquitted and discharged by a lower court in 2018 and 2019, to be released after dismissing an appeal by the prosecution.

In his judgment, justice Mohd Nazlan said the trial judge had – in accordance with Section 173(m) (i) of the Criminal Procedure Code – considered all the evidence made available to the trial court before deciding the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“The defence focused on the issue of time lapse between the time the accused was at the dry gym and his return to the pool as recorded by CCTV, which accorded more with the version of the defence that there was not enough time for the rape to have occurred,” he said adding this did not support the case of the prosecution.

Justice Mohd Nazlan added that there was no evidence of the victim resisting or even calling for help when the rape allegedly happened.

“Even though there is evidence from a number of witnesses that the accused has the propensity for aggressive and even violent behaviour, which supports the victim’s reason for her reluctance to report the alleged rape, there was still ample opportunities for her to report the alleged incident to others, such as to any of her team mates, instead of lodging a report to the police five days after the said alleged incident.”

The judge further said the medical report and the evidence by the doctor who examined the victim merely found the existence of an old tear, in which the victim admitted she did have a sexual relationship with a boyfriend previously.

“I have also taken into account that based on WeChat communication and witnesses’ testimony there is evidence of the accused harassing or making sexual advances on other occasions not only to the victim but at least one other diver.”

However, on the totality of the evidence, the judge found the trial court did not err in its findings that the accused has raised a reasonable doubt of committing the offence at the time and place as specifically framed in the charge against him.

“The trial court is therefore correct in the judgment that the prosecution had not proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. There is in my judgment no appealable error.

“I therefore dismiss the appeal by the prosecution and affirm the acquittal of the respondent of the charge framed against him.”

On 9 April 2018, Huang was acquitted and discharged by the sessions court here without having his defence called after the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against him.

However, on 31 Oct 2018, the high court ordered him to enter his defence after allowing the prosecution’s appeal against the sessions court’s decision to acquit and discharge him.

He was acquitted for the second time at the end of his defence’s trial last year, where the prosecution again filed an appeal which brings to today’s decision.

Huang was charged with raping the national diver, then aged 20, at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil, here, at 5.30pm on 26 Sept 2017.

The man, who has obtained Malaysian citizenship, was charged under Section 376(1) of the Penal Code, which provides an imprisonment for up to 20 years and whipping, if found guilty.

The prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor Nur Ashikin Mokhtar, while lawyer Mohd Hisham Md Nen represented Huang.

– Bernama