High Court denies Musa Aman overseas medical treatment trip

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 16): The High Court today reversed a Sessions Court order allowing former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman to be given his impounded passport to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Musa, 68, who was to have been allowed to use the passport from Jan 15 to Feb 10 to travel only to Singapore and London, will have to return the document to the Sessions Court today.

High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, in reversing the order given by Sessions Court Judge Rozina  Ayob, said Musa was “merely seeking to be treated by the doctors of his choice” and he felt that he could be readily treated in Malaysia and the ailment he was suffering from could  be attended to by the doctors in this country.

“In fact, the correspondences exhibited in his affidavits gravitate towards the same conclusion,” he said.

Mohamed Zaini said it was undisputed that Musa was suffering from some ailment which was mainly coronary in nature, but there was no suggestion by him that he could only be treated in Singapore and London.

“The pertinent issue here is whether he should be given the liberty to seek further treatment and tests abroad. There is no suggestion by the accused that he could only be treated in Singapore and the United Kingdom. The burden lies on him to show that he would require special medical attention that is not readily available in this country,” he said.

The judge said that in exercising the powers of revision, he would have to be satisfied with the correctness, legality, or propriety of the order made by the Sessions Court judge and the main issue was the correctness of the order.

Mohamed Zaini said the order made was incorrect as he was of the opinion that the Sessions Court judge had failed to fully appreciate the facts.

“The fact that his (Musa’s) passport was ordered to be surrendered when bail was first fixed means that he is a flight risk and that there is a need to curtail his freedom of movement to travel abroad,” he said.

The judge noted that it had been established by decided cases that the freedom of movement of an accused facing criminal charges was fettered, more so when the charges were serious such as in the present case.

Musa was charged on Nov 5, 2018, with 35 counts of corruption involving US$63.3 million (RM263 million) in connection with timber concession contracts in Sabah. He was allowed bail of RM2 million in two sureties and his passport was impounded by the court.  

Mohamed Zaini said: “There must be very compelling reasons proffered before the accused can be allowed to travel abroad. There were none in this case. I, therefore, set aside the Sessions Court order dated  Jan 7, 2019. The terms of the original bail shall stand,” he said.

DPP Datuk Salim Shoib appeared for the prosecution while counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad and Ridha Abdah Subri acted for Musa.

Salim applied to the High Court yesterday for a review of the Sessions Court’s decision of Jan 7, allowing Musa’s application for the release of his impounded passport to enable him to seek treatment in London, claiming Musa’s grounds were not extraordinary, not strong and did not reflect urgency. — Bernama