Court denies Shafee access to passport for Australian case

Senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today dismissed an application by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is facing two charges of money laundering totalling RM9.5 million, 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.

Sequerah said Shafee’s presence in Australia, requested in a letter dated May 13, 2019, was merely to assist in the case.

“The applicant’s presence at the detention facility is for the purpose of translating the 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 is no compelling reason for Shafee to attend the court in Australia.

He added that Shafee had been told to surrender his passport in the first place due to the serious nature of the charges against him.

“The possibility of a risk of flight could not be discounted. So the application for the release of passport is dismissed,” he said.

Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz earlier objected to the application, saying Shafee has no reason to appear in court as the matter can 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 said.

However, Shafee’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh said his client was representing a Malaysian who faces drug charges in the Australian court.

Shafee filed the application for temporary custody of his passport yesterday. Harvinderjit submitted the letter as an additional affidavit today.

On Sept 13 last year, Shafee claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to two charges of money laundering involving RM9.5 million that he received from former prime minister Najib Razak.