Zahid fails in final bid to get passport for umrah

Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today dismissed former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s appeal to get his passport from the court in order to perform the umrah or pilgrimage.

A five-member bench chaired by Azahar Mohamed said the High Court judge had used his discretion judiciously and taken into consideration all factors in dismissing Zahid’s application.

“He gave good and valid reasons. An appellate court will not interfere unless the judge used the wrong principle of law,” he said in the unanimous ruling.

Azahar said the High Court judge had also taken into account the fact that Zahid, who is the former home minister, is facing multiple criminal charges.

On May 14, the Court of Appeal also affirmed the findings of the High Court delivered on May 3.

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 in 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 bench that the High Court judge had erred in his 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.

However, 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. However, the appellant is a flight risk,” he said, adding that while Zahid had produced his flight ticket, it was not accompanied with an itinerary.

Zahid was not in court as he is in Pekan, Pahang, to pay his respects to the former Pahang sultan who died yesterday.

The bench initially questioned whether the appeal could go on in his absence.

However, both the defence and prosecution said the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and the Federal Court Rule 1995 allows the appellant to be absent provided that he is represented by his lawyers.