Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was interviewed by lawyers this morning in relation to cheating charges faced by former transport minister Dr Ling Liong Sik over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

azlanMahathir was interviewed for almost two hours at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, said a source close to the case, on the condition of anonymity.

Ling was ordered to enter his defence on March 9 by High Court judge Ahmadi Asnawi as the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the 69-year-old former MCA president, of cheating the federal government in 2002.

His defence team had  earlier requested Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his predecessors Mahathir and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as possible witnesses to prepare for Ling's defence.

Eight others who were also named are current and former ministers who were members of the cabinet from 2002 to 2004 including Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim and Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok.

Fourth minister quizzed
The others are former women, family and community development minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, former energy and telecommunications minister Leo Moggie, former education minister Musa Mohamad, former tourism minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir , former energy, water and communications minister Dr Lim Keng Yaik and former minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin.

Also included in the lineup is the then special economic adviser to Mahathir, Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman.

Ling had allegedly deceived the government by not disclosing to the cabinet an additional interest rate of 7.5 percent per annum on the purchase price of the land for the mega-transshipment hub.

The price had been fixed at RM1,088,456,000 by the Valuation and Property Services Department, based on RM25 per sq ft, inclusive of the interest rate.

Ling also faces two alternative charges, of allegedly cheating and intentionally omitting from informing the cabinet that the 7.5 percent per annum was an additional interest rate on the 999.5-acre site in Pulau Indah.

The offences were allegedly committed at the fourth floor of the Prime Minister's Office in the Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002.

Its understood that the defence team has thus far interviewed Moggie, Lim and Shahrizat.

The case will be heard over five days from June 18, with Ling expected to testify.