A Malaysian court acquitted a former immigration department head on Friday of accepting a bribe while in office to speed up visas for more than 4,300 Bangladeshi workers, his lawyer said. The district court judge in Kuala Lumpur ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish their case against former Immigration Director-General Abdul Wahid Mohamad Don, but did not give any reasons, lawyer V. Sithambaram said. Prosecutors could not immediately be reached.
Abdul Wahid had been accused of accepting a 60,000 ringgit (US$20,000) bribe in 2008 while he headed the immigration department to expedite visa approvals for 4,337 Bangladeshis. If convicted, he would have faced up to 20 years in jail. Abdul Wahid was one of several senior government officials brought to court in a crackdown on corruption in recent years. But critics have said too few high-profile cases have been tried successfully despite the government's repeated pledges to aggressively fight deeply entrenched corruption.
Earlier this week, police detained seven immigration department officials and two foreigners over alleged human trafficking. Local media reports said the officials allegedly had helped foreigners enter the country illegally.
In recent years, Malaysia has increasingly attracted people from impoverished or war-torn places looking for work illegally or seeking a transit point to enter other nations, such as Australia. Some estimate that at least 2 million foreigners, many from neighboring Indonesia, work in Malaysia illegally.