A Perth man acquitted by a court in Malaysia last week on charges that carry the death penalty has been re-arrested while preparing to board a plane to Australia.
Dominic Bird, 33, who was acquitted last Wednesday on drug trafficking charges, was taken into custody at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday morning.
An application will be heard by the Court of Appeal in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday to decide whether or not to grant prosecutors an appeal against last week’s decision.
Mr Bird’s lawyers say they will vigorously fight the move by prosecutors.
“To re-arrest him, and now for the court to say he should be held pending an appeal … the concept of rule of law is breached,” Mr Bird’s lawyer, Muhammed Shafee Abdullah, told AAP on Monday.
Mr Bird was set free by the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Wednesday, but was unable to return home immediately because his visa for Malaysia had expired, and was then detained at an immigration office.
However, prosecutors had suggested on Wednesday that organising a new visa for Mr Bird was a formality.
“This is total trickery on their part,” Mr Abdullah said.
It’s understood Mr Bird was escorted to the airport on Monday morning by Australian consular officials, having finally obtained the visa.
But he was then taken back into custody before he could board his flight.
His Australian-born lawyer, Tania Scivetti told AAP the application hearing, and any subsequent appeal, would be “fiercely” challenged on the grounds it’s “contrary to our fundamental rights to liberty and rule of law”.
“They informed us he was going back today, and on that basis, the embassy escorted him to the airport,” Ms Scivetti told AAP.
“He was just about to board a flight to go back to Australia and 10 minutes before he was to board they arrested him.”
Mr Bird was initially arrested at a cafe near his apartment in Kuala Lumpur on March 1 last year and accused of supplying an undercover police officer with 167 grams of methamphetamine.
However, the prosecution’s case collapsed following allegations of corruption against Inspector Luther Nurjib – the undercover officer who arrested Mr Bird – who was later accused of “setting up” the Australian.
Insp Nurjib was found guilty of contempt of court and fined RM2000 ($A665), after it emerged he had threatened and attempted to bribe a witness in the Bird case.
In delivering the ruling, Kuala Lumpur High Court’s Justice Kamardin Hashim found the prosecution failed to prove its case and the defence raised reasonable doubt.