KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The High Court here has dismissed an application by former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 corruption charges, for the temporary return of his impounded passport to perform the umrah.
After hearing submissions by both defence and prosecution on Friday (May 3), Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said performing the umrah, although highly recommended during the fasting month, was not compulsory.
"To my understanding, there is no immediate need nor any obligation for the applicant to perform the umrah. Although the applicant has been performing umrah for the past 30 years, the situation and circumstances currently prevailing are very different as he is presently facing serious and numerous charges. Therefore, the court dismisses this application," he said.
Earlier, Ahmad Zahid's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik submitted that his client had to travel to Saudi Arabia between May 9 and June 3 to perform the umrah.
Hisyam said that his client had no other intention as he is still a Member of Parliament and that his family members are still in the country.
"He will return the passport to the court the next day of his arrival in this country," Hisyam said.
Ahmad Zahid was also present in court.
Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, another lawyer representing Ahmad Zahid, said his client had never failed to perform umrah every year for the past 30 years, especially during the month of Ramadhan.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi objected to the application, saying there was no immediate need for the applicant to perform the umrah and the charges against the accused were serious.
Earlier, the court fixed Nov 18, 20-22 and Dec 2-6, 9-13 for the trial.
On March 22, Justice Sequerah had set 18 days for the trial from July 8 until Sept 12.
However, the dates had been vacated for the trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is facing 25 corruption and money laundering charges involving RM2.28bil of 1MDB funds, which was scheduled to commence from Aug 19 until mid-November.
On Oct 19 and Dec 14 last year, Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty to a total of 46 charges, comprising 11 charges of CBT, eight charges of corruption and 27 charges of money laundering involving millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
On Feb 20 this year, he was slapped with another charge of CBT involving RM260,000 belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi. – Bernama
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