Federal Court rejects bail bid by contractor facing migrant smuggling charges

PUTRAJAYA: A contractor who is facing charges of migrant smuggling and receiving proceeds from the illegal activity lost his bid in the Federal Court on Wednesday (Oct 5) to be released on bail pending his trial.

A three-man bench led by Federal Court judge Justice Vernon Ong Lam Kiat rejected Samat Yamin's application for bail after ruling that Section 13 of the Security Offences (Special Measures) (SOSMA) Act 2012, the section restricting the granting of bail to certain accused persons, was constitutional.

Section 13 states that bail shall not be granted to a person who has been charged with a security offence except for persons who are below 18 years of age, a woman, or a sick or infirm person.

In his decision, Justice Ong said Samat, 56, failed to satisfy the condition under Section 13 of SOSMA to be given bail pending his trial.

"We do not think the applicant (Samat) is sick or infirm within the meaning of Section 13 of the SOSMA Act," said Justice Vernon who sat with Justices Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Rhodzariah Bujang.

Justice Ong also held that Section 26A and Section 26D of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIPSOM), the sections under which Samat was being charged, came within the ambit of SOSMA.

Samat was charged in the Klang High Court two years ago with the smuggling of migrants and receiving proceeds from human trafficking at a house in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, between May 17 and May 20, 2020.

His application for bail pending the hearing of his trial was denied by the High Court in 2020. His two charges are said to be offences touching on national security and the prosecution had used SOSMA to disallow him from being released on bail.

The Court of Appeal also dismissed Samat's appeal in May this year after ruling that it had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

On Wednesday, the Federal Court dismissed the prosecution's preliminary objection and proceeded to hear the merits of the bail application after ruling that it has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Samat's lawyer Ram Karpal Singh had argued that Section 13 was unconstitutional as there was discrimination in the granting of bail to persons who are charged with security offences.

He said a fit and healthy man charged with security offences under SOSMA would not be able to apply and obtain bail but a woman charged with a similar offence under SOSMA would be able to get bail regardless of whether she is healthy or otherwise.

He said the restrictions in Section 13 which only allowed bail to certain accused persons are in breach of the principle of equality enshrined in Article 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution and therefore unconstitutional.

Ram Karpal, who was assisted by Sangeet Kaur Deo, Harshaan Zamani, and Simranjit Kaur, said his client was suffering from illnesses including gout, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes and ought to be given bail pending trial.

He also said the charges faced by his client were not security-related offences as there were no elements of violence or terrorism.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar argued that Section 13 was not discriminatory and is in line with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, adding also that Samat was not suffering from a life-threatening illness where he needs continuous treatment. - Bernama

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