Zahid fails again in bid to obtain passport for umrah

Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

PUTRAJAYA: Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has failed again in his bid to obtain his passport from the court in order to perform the umrah or pilgrimage.

A Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, today dismissed his appeal against the lower court’s decision denying him his passport.

“We find no reason to disturb the decision of the High Court judge in exercising his discretion,” she said.

Other judges on the panel were Harminder Singh Dhaliwal and Stephen Chung.

Zahid surrendered his passport to the High Court last November after claiming trial to 45 charges of money laundering, corruption and criminal breach of trust (CBT) offences.

Two more CBT charges were filed against him December and February this year.

Zahid’s trial will run from Nov 18 to 22. Subsequent trial dates have been fixed from Dec 2 to 26 and Dec 9 to 13.

Lawyer Hisyam Teh, representing Zahid, told the appeals court today that the High Court had erred in its decision to deny Zahid his passport.

“The lower court did not consider in its judgment whether the application was made in good faith,” he said, adding that Zahid had provided his travel itinerary for Mecca from May 19 to June 3.

Zahid himself addressed the court as well, saying he had promised to perform the umrah in Mecca every year.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi said the Attorney-General’s Chambers objected to Zahid’s application on grounds that he is facing 47 charges.

“We are not stopping a person from performing his religious duties. We want to prevent individuals accused of serious crimes from absconding,” he said.

But Hisyam said there was no basis to the prosecution’s argument that Zahid is likely to flee.