KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The High Court here has dismissed an application by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is facing two money laundering charges totalling RM9.5mil, to recover his passport in order to attend a criminal case in Australia.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah made the decision after hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence teams when the case was mentioned before him on Tuesday (May 14).
Justice Sequerah said that a letter dated May 13, 2019, requesting Shafee to go to Australia was merely to assist the case.
“The applicant's presence (Shafee) at a detention facility was for the purpose of translating in Malay language and he could send a representative from his firm.
“It is evident therefore that the applicant's presence is merely to assist, as there are Australian solicitors on record,” he said, adding that there was no compelling reason for Shafee to be in the court.
Justice Sequerah added that the rational of requiring the applicant to surrender his passport in the first place was because the serious nature of the charges he faced.
“The possibility of a risk of flight could not be discounted. So, the application for the release of passport is dismissed,” he said.
At the outset, deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz, who led the prosecution team, objected to the application, saying that there was no reason for Shafee to appear in the court, as the matter could be handled by his representatives.
“The accused should be treated equally like other accused persons. He should not be given special treatment just because he is a member of the Malaysian Bar,” Afzainizam submitted.
Shafee's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh replied that his client was representing a Malaysian, who is facing a drug case in a court in Australia.
Shafee filed the application to temporarily obtain custody of his passport on Monday (May 13), and Harvinderjit submitted the letter as additional affidavit on Tuesday.
On Sept 13 last year, Shafee claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to two charges of money laundering involving RM9.5mil that he received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. - Bernama