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No legal basis for Shafie’s arrest, says lawyer

 | October 20, 2017

N Surendran says anti-graft agency appears to be resorting to 'automatic arrest and remand' in probe into alleged misappropriation of funds in Sabah.

n-surendran-shafie-apdalPETALING JAYA: Human rights lawyer N Surendran has questioned the legal basis of the arrest of Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Shafie Apdal in connection with investigations into the alleged misappropriation of RM1.5 billion in funds from rural development projects in Sabah.

He said although the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had the right and duty to carry out investigations, arrests and remands should be the exception, not the norm.

“Arrests and remands should only be resorted to in very limited circumstances, when it is absolutely necessary for the purposes of investigations.

“In other words, the legal burden is upon the arresting authority to show why they cannot investigate without resorting to arrest and remand.

“This legal position applies to all criminal investigations into all types of offences, with the exception of suspects who are a flight risk or where it is believed the suspect could interfere with witnesses.

Shafie, however, had gone to the MACC office voluntarily and had repeatedly and publicly pledged his full cooperation to the anti-graft agency, Surendran said.

“There is no suggestion even by the MACC that Shafie is a flight risk or that he may interfere with witnesses.

“Therefore, what is the legal basis for his arrest?” he said in a statement today.

Shafie, who is former federal rural and regional development minister, was taken into custody at about 9pm yesterday.

He had earlier given his statement to the MACC regarding its probe into several projects between 2009 and 2015 when he was minister.

Shafie is the 11th person to be arrested by the anti-graft agency in its ongoing investigation, with two of his younger brothers among those arrested earlier.

The MACC is reportedly scrutinising some 70 projects out of an original list of 350 under the ministry of rural and regional development for suspected embezzlement.

The projects were planned to be carried out in Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Kota Belud, Ranau, Beaufort, Keningau, Lahad Datu, Tawau and Sandakan.

The RM1.5 billion was said to be part of RM7.5 billion allocated for water, electricity and road infrastructure development projects.

Surendran, who is Padang Serai MP, said the MACC seemed to have resorted to “automatic arrest and remand”, a tendency which according to him has also been practised by the police and other enforcement agencies.

“It must be remembered that the liberty of the individual is sacrosanct and is protected by Article 5 of the Federal Constitution. There must be the strongest reasons to tamper with anyone’s liberty,” he said.

He urged the MACC and all other enforcement agencies to observe the law and respect the constitution in carrying out their investigations.

He added that Shafie, along with others who had been detained but posed no flight risk or threat to witness integrity, should be immediately released.

“This will not affect the MACC’s investigations as they would be available to be interviewed when necessary,” he said.



Warisan president Shafie Apdal arrested by MACC


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