MCO: Retired civil servant spends night in jail for walking to grocery shop despite pleading innocence & granted bail

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 – A retired civil servant was arrested on Monday, 300 meters away from his home, whilst walking to a shop to buy food. The accused was arrested as he was wearing sport shoes at the time, which led the police officer to believe he was exercising and not actually walking to a shop to buy food. Although bail was granted the accused had to spend a night in jail, a court observer told NMT.

NMT later spoke to the accused lawyer, Tay Yi Kuan from Messrs Roshan who declined to provide his client’s name but said that the accused pleaded NOT guilty, and bail was offered at RM1,500.00 with one surety.

The accused attended KL Court on 21.4.2020 at 9 am, but the case was only called up and charged at approximately 4.30pm; for being in violation of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

“Although the case was called earlier around 2.30pm, there was a double entry in the system meaning the accused case was entered twice, so for the first entry, the accused was given a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA).” said Tay.

Tay said that he informed the Court that posting bail would be an impossible task as the bank (Maybank) located at KL Court Complex was closed as a result of the MCO. Furthermore, all dealings must be done at the Maybank located at Desa Sri Hartamas which had also closed at 2pm, also due to the MCO restrictions.

Tay said he was also informed by the administrative staff at the bail counter located at level B1, that the “E-Jamin” facility was not working as the required person in charge was not at Court.

He was also informed that the bail counter which processes all bail matters closed at 4pm.

Tay also said that the accused’s bailor carried enough cash to pay for it, but couldn’t do so because of all the processes required.

What’s the bail procedure?

According to Tay, when bail is granted by the magistrate, the bailor will proceed to the bail counter to inform and the person in charge of the bail counter will issue a form to the bailor.

“With the form issued by the bail counter, the bailor will then have to go bank to open a bank account and deposited bail sum into the account subsequently the bank office will prepare a letter/ form to issue to the bailor to confirm the bail sum has been deposited into the account. (the process will take approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours to finish the process for the bailor),” he said.

There are only certain banks (Maybank at KL Court and BSN at LHDN) is allowed to process the bail application and the banks close at 3pm during MCO.

“After that, the bailor will then has to rush back to the bail counter to pass the form and wait for the accused to be released,” explained Tay.

Magistrate denied request to post bail a day after

Tay said he pleaded with the Court to allow his client to post bail on the next day as he had done nothing wrong and had been at Court since 8:45 am that morning, has cash to post the bail but unable to do so not due to his fault.

Magistrate Nur Farahain Roslan denied the request.

As there was no possibility to post bail on the same day due to the mentioned MCO restrictions as well as the magistrate’s refusal to let the accused post bail the next day, the accused was taken to Sungai Buloh prison where he had to spend a night in jail despite having pleaded his innocence and being granted bail by the court.

The accused was released after posting bail on Wednesday, April 22 after spending a night in Sungai Buloh prison.

Detention unconstitutional?

Such unfair detention may have gone against Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, concerning Fundamental Liberties.

Was the accused deprived of his right of being released of bail even though it was granted?

Why must the accused spent a night in jail for reasons out of his control?

No matter what, the accused had been punished by being sent to prison merely because the bank is closed due to the MCO.

Perhaps the courts would need to revisit the procedures to prevent such violations of liberties to the rakyat.

-Mujahidin Zulkiffli, NMT