[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Aug 26 11:00:59 CDT 2007
9 Years on Death Row, Denied Appeal
"Hang me or release me but don't leave me to suffer a slow death," is the
cry of anguish from Baha Jambol, 45, who has been suspended helplessly
here on death-row for nine long years, unable to appeal a death sentence.
Jambols desperate predicament is not unique. It is caused by a serious
flaw in Malaysian criminal justice system.
Jambol was sentenced to death in April 1998 for being in possession of 50
kg of cannabis. He is unable to appeal because the trial judge has failed
to put pen to paper and give the grounds sentencing him to 'death by
"Without a written judgement we can't appeal," Karpal Singh, Jambol's
lawyer and prominent human rights campaigner, told IPS.
Jambol, a driver, was at the wheel of a car when cannabis was found
inside. But the car owner, who was with him at the time, was acquitted.
The scandal of the ink-shy judge, loath to put his judgements on paper,
has shocked the nation and led to renewed demands for a swift end to the
"This case is a severe travesty of justice," said Singh. "Jambol has been
languishing on death row for 9 years what can be crueller than this? I
urge the government to immediately abolish the death penalty and end the
misery of people on death row."
Like Jambol, dozens of others wait in great misery in the country's
overcrowded jails unable to appeal their death sentences because trial
judges have skipped their duty of spelling out their judgements on paper.
Aziz Sharif, 28, was sentenced to death in 2001 for murdering his
girlfriend, a conviction that his lawyer Harbahjan Singh says is deeply
flawed. 6 years on, Singh is still blocked from filing an appeal because
there is no written judgement.
Aziz is suffering severe mental torture while waiting to know his fate,
his family, poor rice farmers from the southern state of Negri Sembilan,
told the newspaper The New Straits Times earlier this month.
They have appealed to the court numerous times to get the judge to write
his judgment but without success.
"I wrote 5 letters to the court over the matter and sadly they did not
have the decency to reply to any of the letters," Singh told the paper.
The same predicament is currently being endured by Haszaidi Hasan, also
sentenced to death for drug trafficking in 2001.
Opposition politicians and rights activists are now pressing for action
against Malaysias indolent judges.
"Their lackadaisical attitude has hamstrung the administration of justice
to people who need it the most," opposition lawmaker Kulasegaran Murugesan
"If the judges had done their basic duties the convicted persons could
have speedily filed their appeals and probably been acquitted. A long
delay is a mark of a poor criminal justice system," he said, urging the
government to set free death-row inmates caught in such a tragic
He added: "A more lasting and more humane solution is to abolish the death
The cases have also been taken up by the rights organisation Malaysians
Against the Death Penalty. "Prisoners facing capital punishment are under
severe pressure if their appeals are delayed," Charles Hector, the
organisations co-director and lawyer, told IPS.
"Judges should understand the tremendous pressure the death penalty
generates delaying their right to appeal is an act of utmost cruelty.
Family members are also left emotionally drained by the uncertainties and
the long meaningless delays. It is an intolerable form of torture."
Hector added: "This tragic delay is another reason to review the death
penalty. We demand an immediate moratorium on all executions pending the
abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia."
Amnesty International has also expressed shock at the long inordinate
delays and the resulting mental torture death row inmates suffer. There
should be an immediate moratorium on all further executions, the
The Malaysian Bar Association has taken up the scandal, calling on all the
countrys lawyers to report back cases where clients are enduring a "slow
death" because of long-delayed or non-existent written judgements.
The association plans to present Malaysia's Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz
Halim with a list of serious cases. The hope is the offending judges will
be penalised, a sanction that might finally end the torment of many dozens
like Jambol and Aziz left dangling on death-row.
Malaysia imposes the death penalty for a raft of offences, from drug
trafficking (15 grams of heroin and 200 grams of cannabis) to poisoning
the water supply. Mandatory death penalties are also given for murder,
possession of firearms, treason.
Over a thousand persons have been executed since independence in 1957 and
some 300 are currently awaiting execution on death row, many of them
Acehnese from Indonesia convicted of trafficking cannabis.
(source: IPS News)
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