Australian to face Malaysian drugs acquittal appeal

Australian to face Malaysian drugs acquittal appeal
Australian truck driver Dominic Bird arrives at the appeals court in Putrajaya.

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - An Australian man who was acquitted in Malaysia on the capital charge of drug trafficking was ordered on Tuesday to surrender his passport and remain in the country pending a government appeal.

Mr Dominic Bird, 33, was acquitted on Sept 4, apparently ending an 18-month legal ordeal.

But he was arrested five days later as he sought to leave the country for his home in Western Australia, as authorities said they would appeal the acquittal.

Mr Bird's lawyers have called his re-arrest unconstitutional but a three-judge appeals panel rejected that argument on Tuesday.

"An appeal is a continuation of a trial. Consequently, criminal proceedings against the respondent are revived," said Justice Azhar Mohamed, head of the panel.

Drug trafficking brings a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction.

The panel granted Mr Bird bail but ordered him to surrender his passport.

"We order that an early date be fixed for the appeal," Mr Azhar said.

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