The hearing was supposed to be continued today with three more witnesses to be called before the prosecution wrapped up its case, but had to be postponed after Tharmendran's counsel Rakhbir Singh notified the court through a letter that he was discharging himself as he was not getting further instructions from his client.
Tharmendran (top) was charged in military court with the offences in June 2007 and 11 witnesses had been called till May 2009. However, the trial was deferred to facilitate investigations into the missing jet engines, where he was a suspect.
In his court martial, the sergeant has been charged under Section 61(b) of the Armed Forces Act 1972 and section 88 of the same act, whereby he can be jailed up to two years, if convicted.
Missing printer cartridges
According to the charge sheet, Tharmendran, 42, is accused of dishonestly misappropriating eight HP Laser Jet print cartridges of various models which were public property while for the alternative charge, he is accused of accepting stolen property involving the same items.
Also charged along with him was RMAF Corporal Mohamad Zohari Aris. He was slapped similar charges.
The duo had pleaded not guilty to the offences, which were alleged to have been committed at RMAF's Subang air base near Kuala Lumpur at 1pm on Jan 13, 2006.
During today's proceedings, Tharmendran's previous defence counsel Maj HS Tiong had also told the court that he had gone to the Sungai Buloh prison (where Tharmendran is being remanded in connection with the jet engines theft case) on Tuesday (July 27) to meet the accused but was told that he (Tharmendran) was no longer interested in having him (Tiong) represent him.
It was the same for Mohamad Zohari with his counsel Mohd Fadzil Zainuddin also telling the court that his client was no longer interested in his services.
New defence counsel named
Tharmendran, who was present, then informed the court that he had appointed lawyer N Surendran as his new defence counsel.
However, he said Surendran was not able to be present in court today as the latter was not informed about today's hearing.
The court also postponed hearing of Mohamad Zohari's case as his new counsel G Ravichandran had another case at the Teluk Intan High Court.
The court panel headed by Major Zainal Abidin Abdul Aziz then warned the litigants that no more postponements would be allowed as the two trials had dragged on for too long.
The prosecution was handled by military prosecutors Capt Zaharuddin Che Zahari and Capt Ahmad Azam Soip.
On Jan 6 this year, Tharmendran had pleaded not guilty at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court to abetting Airman Mohamad Shukri with stealing two F5 jet engines at the Material Processing Shed MATRA 1, RMAF base, Sungai Besi on April 30, 2008.
A businessman, K Rajendran Prasad, 38, was charged with disposing off the engines at the Subang Industrial Park on April 30, 2008. He pleaded not guilty.