"No Distinction Between One Accused And Another" — Zahid Fails To Get Passport Permanently
The Kuala Lumpur High Court, however, allowed Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi a temporary release of his passport in order for him to apply for a diplomatic passport to fulfil his official duties as the Deputy Prime Minister.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi failed to get his passport returned to him permanently after the Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected his application earlier today, 3 February
Zahid's passport was seized by the court as part of the conditions for the UMNO president's bail after he was charged with multiple counts of corruption involving his foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, in 2018.
On 20 January this year, Zahid applied to have the court permanently return his passport in order for him to carry out his official duties as the Deputy Prime Minister, such as representing the government overseas.
However, High Court Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah dismissed Zahid's application, saying there is "no distinction between one accused person and another accused".
Sequerah explained his decision by highlighting the Federal Constitution's Article 8(1), which states that all persons are equal before the law and that it must apply alike to all persons in all circumstances.
The High Court, however, allowed Zahid a temporary release of his passport in order for him to apply for a diplomatic passport
Sequerah said that he took cognisance of the fact that as deputy prime minister and minister, the accused has official duties to perform, but these duties must not clash with the duty of the court.
"The accused is still entitled to apply for the release of passport for purposes of discharging his duties overseas as and when they arise or as becomes necessary, as long as they do not clash with the duty of the court to proceed with the trial. I agreed with the prosecution that the accused is entitled to have his passport returned to him upon application for the purposes of applying for a diplomatic passport," he said.
Zahid will need to return his passport after a diplomatic passport is issued to him.
Zahid is facing 47 charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi
The charges include 12 counts of criminal breach of trust over RM31 million belonging to his charitable foundation, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges involving RM21.25 million.
Zahid's trial will resume on 10 April this year.