Aussie ordered to remain in Malaysia despite getting bail

PUTRAJAYA - Australian Dominic Jude Bird had his "wings clipped" by the Court of Appeal here after he was ordered to remain in Malaysia despite being granted bail pending a prosecution's appeal against his acquittal for drug trafficking.

A three-man panel at the Court of Appeal allowed Bird bail on condition that he surrender his passport pending the disposal of the appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to acquit him.

The panel chaired by Justice Azhar Mohamad unanimously upheld the prosecution's application to remand the Perth-based businessman, saying that it was to maintain the integrity of the appeal and not render it academic by his non-attendance.

It also ruled that the warrant - which saw Bird being detained at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang on Sept 10 just before boarding a flight for Australia - was a valid order.

"The court exercised its discretion under Section 56A (of the Courts of Judicature Act 1954) in granting the prosecution a warrant to remand, arrest or jail the respondent (Bird) pending the appeal," said Justice Azhar.

The panel, which included Justices Hamid Sultan Backer and Mokhtaruddin Baki, found that the arrest did not violate the man's rights under Articles 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution.

The panel allowed bail at RM50,000 (S$19,000) with two local sureties.

It set the additional conditions for Bird to surrender his passport, report to a police station at 5pm every Monday and disclose his fixed address while on bail.

On Sept 4, Bird was acquitted and discharged by the Kuala Lumpur High Court after it ruled that the defence had raised a reasonable doubt on the prosecution's case on the charge of trafficking 167.8gm of methamphetamine at a coffee outlet in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng here on March 1 last year.

Bird's counsel Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters that he would appeal as he was in "total disagreement" with the Court of Appeal's decision.

Bird was also represented by counsel Tania Scivetti, S. Sheelan and Kevin Tan Kim Kwong.

Head of the Attorney-General's Chambers Appeal's Unit Saiful Edris Zainuddin and DPP Ahmad Bache acted for the prosecution.