PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Jailed former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arrived at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on Thursday (Aug 25) in a dark SUV with tinted windows and strode into the courtroom in a suit, his hands free.
As he left the court, he wound down the window and waved to his supporters.
That has now raised questions.
Do convicted prisoners have to be brought to court in a police van commonly known as Black Maria or a police vehicle? Can they be allowed to be dressed in suits instead of prison garb? Do they need to be handcuffed?
Lawyers say the rules are unclear and some leeway is actually given.
Senior lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the leeway on the attire and the mode of transportation is up to the Prison Department.
He said inmates from prison are allowed to be in plainclothes when they arrive at court.
“Now Najib has always been coming to court in a coat and tie so it is not fair to expect him to come in pyjamas,” said Mr Mohamed Haniff, adding that Najib could need to change into prison attire once he is back behind bars.
The same goes for the mode of transportation, he said.
It is up to the prison authorities to decide what is the best in terms of the safety of the inmates.
“I wouldn’t make it an issue or call it a VVIP treatment. It is important to understand that the safety of the inmates and the situation in prison is in the hands of the prison authority.
“They will not be putting him in a normal cell shared with four other inmates. We won’t be able to ensure his safety. What if something happens to him? The prison authorities will have to answer,” added Mr Mohamed Haniff.
He said prime ministers are always the centre of attention and there are bound to be people who hate them and those who like them.
However, he hoped there would be no “special treatment” which could be deemed as abuse.
Lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan said the general rule is that all convicts must be dressed in prison attire but some leeway is allowed.