Release petty crime suspects on bail to help contain Covid-19, says Bar chief

Salim Bashir says suspects who fail to post bail and end up in in lock-ups could frustrate the government’s MCO.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir has called for the release on police bail of suspects in minor crimes while the movement control order (MCO) is in force.

Speaking to FMT, he said the government’s initiative against the Covid-19 outbreak could be frustrated if suspects were held in lock-ups while waiting to be charged or were charged and failed to post bail.

“Social distancing can be realised when no one is held over minor or petty crimes until the containment period is over,” he added.

Salim said the suspects could be asked to present themselves when deputy public prosecutors were ready to frame charges against them.

Police bail is the temporary release from custody after the arrest and interview of a person under investigation by the police.

If the suspect is not charged with a crime immediately, the police could release him on bail, with or without conditions.

Police bail cannot be offered to foreigners and those charged with capital offences.

However, according to Salim, exceptions can be given to the sick, the infirm, children and women even if they are charged with murder.

The chief registrar of the Federal Court, Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh, said on Tuesday that all trials nationwide would be suspended until March 31, when the restricted movement order expires.