PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic), who is facing 47 charges of money-laundering, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corruption, has failed in his appeal to get his impounded passport returned to perform the umrah in Mecca.
The Court of Appeal's three-member bench, led by Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, was unanimous in its dismissal of the appeal on Tuesday (May 14).
The other members of the bench were Justice Datuk Harminder Singh Dhaliwal and Justice Stephen Chung Hian Guan.
In delivering the decision, Justice Umi Kalthum said the court is satisfied that the High Court judge had made due consideration in disallowing the appellant's (Dr Ahmad Zahid's) application.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, was appealing against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision on May 3 this year, to dismiss his application for the temporary return of his impounded passport to perform the umrah.
High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah held that the performance of the umrah, although highly recommended during the fasting month, was not compulsory.
On Oct 19 and Dec 14 last year, Dr Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty to 46 charges, comprising 11 CBT charges, eight corruption charges and 27 money-laundering charges involving millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
On Feb 20 this year, he was slapped with another CBT charge involving RM260,000 belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
The High Court has fixed Nov 18-22, Dec 2-6 and Dec 9-13 for the trial.
Earlier, Dr Ahmad Zahid's counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik submitted that the High Court judge had failed to sufficiently appreciate that the application was made in good faith and that the appellant had given his undertaking to the court that the passport would be returned.
"The learned High Court judge also failed to sufficiently appreciate that the appellant had given his flight and accommodation details both in Madinah and in Mekah and that though the charges are serious, this fact was not adequately balanced with the cardinal principle of the presumption of innocence," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who was given the opportunity to address the court, said: "I intend to perform the umrah as I have vowed to do so in accordance with the teachings of Islam, I plead with the court to allow my application based on my Islamic belief."
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi objected to the appeal saying that Dr Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 serious charges.
"It is not the government's intention to prevent one from performing their religious obligation but the accused is facing serious charges and hence should be stopped from leaving the country. It is also to prevent any violation of bail conditions," he said. – Bernama