Imposing a high bail is akin to punishing the accused before a verdict, says Baljit Sidhu.
PETALING JAYA: A lawyer said the main aim of offering bail to accused persons is to secure their attendance during trial.
“Any excessive sum imposed will defeat that purpose,” Baljit Sidhu said.
The lawyer said this in response to the high bail of RM12 million imposed on former Sabah Water Department director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib and his wife Fauziah Piut. They could not post bail.
Baljit, who is also a criminal law lecturer, said an accused person was innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
“Imposing a high bail amount tantamounts to punishing the accused before a verdict is handed,” he said.
He said the freedom of the accused was affected when he or she had to remain in prison.
He said the court could have imposed other conditions on Tahir and his wife such as ordering the couple to report to the nearest police station once a week.
Baljit said the couple could file a fresh bail application in the High Court or hope for a judge to call the case through a revision.
The couple’s lawyer P J Pereira was reported to have said that it was impossible for his clients to raise RM12 million, and that he was awaiting instruction to take the case to the High Court.
Last week, the Sessions Court in Kota Kinabalu imposed RM10 million bail on Tahir and RM2 million bail on his wife.
Tahir faces eight charges of being in possession of RM56.9 million in cash and in four bank accounts, two charges of owning six luxury vehicles and a charge of owning 86 types of branded watches.
He also faces another charge of being directly involved in handing over RM14,000 to Cristine Fiona M Ponsoi.
The charges were framed under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).
Fauziah faces 19 charges for having more than RM2.2 million in 18 bank accounts. She is also accused of using proceeds from illegal activities to own 93 branded handbags.
Also charged is former department deputy director Lim Lam Beng, 64. He faces four anti-money laundering charges involving property and cash totalling RM2.3 million.
Lim managed to post his RM1 million bail.
All three claimed trial before Sessions Court judge Ummu Kalthom Abdul Samad.