The High Court here today dismissed an application by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (above), 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.
Justice Sequerah said that in the letter, dated May 13, 2019, requesting Muhammad Shafee to go to Australia was merely to assist the case.
“The applicant’s presence (Muhammad Shafee) at the detention facility for the purpose of translating in Malay language ... 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 Muhammad Shafee to be in the court.
Justice Sequerah further said that the whole rationale of requiring the applicant to surrender his passport in the first place was because of 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 Muhammad 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,” he submitted.
Muhammad Shafee’s lawyer, Harvinderjit Singh, replied that his client was representing a Malaysian who is facing a drug case in a court in Australia.
Muhammad Shafee filed the application to temporarily obtain custody of his passport yesterday, and today Harvinderjit submitted the letter as an additional affidavit.
On Sept 13 last year, Muhammad Shafee claimed trial at the Sessions Court to two charges of money laundering involving RM9.5mil that he received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.