[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Mar 9 11:00:14 CST 2012
Perth man charged, facing death penalty
A Perth man is facing the death penalty in Malaysia after being formally
charged with drug trafficking.
Dominic Jude Christopher Bird, 32, was refused bail after his appearance in the
Malaysian High Court today, where he was officially charged under section 39B
of the Dangerous Drugs Act - which carries the mandatory death penalty.
Bird’s lawyer, Malaysian-based Australian Tani Scivetti, said she had been
denied access to her client and was only informed of Bird’s High Court
appearance and formal charges late in the afternoon.
Bird was arrested by undercover officers during a police sting at a coffee shop
in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on March 1, where police alleged he
tried to sell them 225g of methamphetamines.
A search of his nearby apartment uncovered a smaller quantity of drugs and led
to the arrests of 2 local men and a Filipino woman, who are also in custody.
Under Malaysian law, a person convicted of possessing more than 50g of
methamphetamines is declared a drug trafficker and faces a mandatory death
Ms Scivetti said she was uncertain what quantity of drugs Bird had been
formally charged with, as she hadn’t seen the charge sheet yet.
But she confirmed he now faced the death penalty.
“Today, without informing us or the (Australian) embassy, Dominic was brought
before a judge and charged with 39B, which carries the death penalty,” Ms
The charges were laid by Malaysia’s Department of Public Prosecutions.
Ms Scivetti speculated prosecutors must already have secured a chemist’s report
of the substances allegedly found in Bird’s possession.
“They would have had to have had the chemist’s report to officially charge
him,” she said.
Ms Scivetti said she had not visited her client since he was formally charged
this morning, but said he was in a “state of shock” yesterday after a
closed-door hearing at the Jin Jang lockup tentatively charged him with drug
trafficking and remanded him in custody.
He has since been moved from his holding cell at the Dang Wang Police Station
to the maximum security Sungai Buloh Remand Prison.
Bird’s next High Court appearance will be on May 25.
Ms Scivetti said she would try to visit her client tomorrow morning, and
expected to file Contempt of Court charges over police handling of the case.
“The magistrate ordered yesterday that remand be extended for 7 days and that
counsel be entitled to visit their client for two hours a day, commencing
yesterday,” she said.
“Yesterday we went to the police and requested to see Dominic and they said
they were reviewing the matter and denied us access.
“They also didn’t inform us of his High Court appearance this morning, or that
they were laying official charges.
“That court order has totally been ignored.”
Ms Scivetti said it had also been reported to the magistrate that Bird had been
assaulted by police in custody on March 5, after he claimed he was blindfolded
and “slapped around”.
“We asked her to note the fact that he was assaulted,” she said.
However, Malaysian Deputy Director of Narcotics Harris Wong denied Bird had
“No, no, no, no - I’m not aware of any assault,” he told AAP.
Relatives confirmed Bird’s Perth-based father, Clayton, had flown to Malaysia
on Friday, but Ms Scivetti said he had not yet visited his son in custody.
She said she was unaware of the status of Bird’s co-accused but that the
arrested Filipino woman was believed to be a 55-year old maid hired to look
after his luxury apartment, just 20m from the coffee shop where he had been
The Australian Government has refused to speculate on Bird’s case, only to
reiterate it opposes the death penalty and would seek a stay of execution if he
Malaysia has executed 3 Australians for drug offences.
Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged in July 1986, followed by Michael
McAuliffe in June 1993.
(source: The West Australian)
Death for Kasab? Don’t be sure; SC has swung both ways
Had the Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab struck in Ireland, UK,
Ukraine or Turkmenistan and killed the 166 innocent people that he did in
Mumbai on 26 November 2008, the question of death penalty for him would not
So also in the case of the assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi or
Afzal Guru, convicted of the 2001 attack on Parliament.
This is because the death penalty stands abolished not just in the four
countries mentioned above but in as many as 140 countries across the world.
Although India is among the 58 countries, along with the United States, China
and Japan, which uphold the death penalty, it has been moving cautiously
towards a moratorium on capital punishment – the first big step towards the
abolition of the death penalty.
The SC has been emphasising the need to give the death penalty only in the
'rarest of rare' cases.
While there are 300 people on Indian death row, in the last 17 years just 1
person – Dhananjoy Chatterjee – was hanged for raping and killing a school
In 1983, the Supreme Court gave a landmark ruling in the Bachchan Singh vs
State of Punjab case that the death penalty should be applied in the “rarest of
rare” cases. Since then, a large number of death sentences given by the high
courts and other lower courts have been commuted to life terms.
Recently, on 28 February, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice AK Patnaik
and Justice Swatanter Kumar elaborated on its clear preference for life rather
than death while commuting a death sentence awarded by a Bilaspur trial court
to life imprisonment. The case was related to four convicts who were held
guilty of raping a married woman who died later. Justice Kumar emphatically
observed that “the basic principle, stated repeatedly” by the Supreme Court is
that “life imprisonment is the rule and death penalty an exception.” (For full
details, see www.legalblog.in/).
At the same time, he justified the imposition of the death penalty citing
various judgements of the SC such as the Dhanonjoy Chatterjee vs State of West
Bengal (1994) case in which a security guard was sentenced to death after he
raped and murdered a young girl whose mother had complained against him of eve
As Justice Kumar explained, “In our opinion, the measure of punishment in a
given case must depend upon the atrocity of the crime; the conduct of the
criminal and the defenceless and unprotected state of the victim. Imposition of
appropriate punishment is the manner in which the courts respond to the
society’s cry for justice against the criminals. Justice demands that courts
should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the courts reflect public
abhorrence of the crime. The courts must not only keep in view the rights of
the criminal but also the rights of the victim of crime and the society at
large while considering imposition of appropriate punishment.”
He explained that while deciding on the death penalty, the court seeks to draw
a balance between the “aggravating circumstances” of the crime and the
“mitigating circumstances”. While heinous crimes such as acts of terrorism,
murder, rape, armed dacoity, kidnapping would fall under aggravating
circumstances, “mitigating circumstances” would include the manner and
circumstances under which the offence was committed, extreme mental or
emotional disturbance and extreme provocation. The age of the accused would be
“a relevant consideration but not a determinative factor by itself”.
Kasab’s arguments for a review of his death sentence that was awarded by a
trial court on 6 May 2010 and upheld by the Bombay High Court on 21 February
2011, tilts heavily in favour of the factors listed under the “mitigating
circumstances”. For example, senior advocate and amicus curie Raju
Ramachandran, who argued the case on behalf of Kasab in the SC, cited his young
age (21 at the time of the terror attack) as an important factor that had to be
considered. Also, that he was not acting on his own but was under the influence
of “skewed religious faith and false ideology”.
The prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam has categorically stated that the terrorist
should be awarded capital punishment as “This is the rarest of rare cases. He
should not be entitled to any mercy.”
While the death penalty is legal in India, there is a growing lobby of highly
influential persons and others who are pressing for its abolition. They include
such notables as the senior Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves, former
Supreme Court Justice AK Ganguly and Justice KT Thomas, whose bench upheld the
death penalty in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
While speaking in his personal capacity at a law school in November 2011,
Justice Ganguly described capital punishment as “barbaric” and “irresponsible”
but legal. According to him, even the “rarest of rare” doctrines was flawed as
it is “a grey area as it depended on the interpretation of individual judges.”
Internationally, Amnesty International is in the forefront in challenging the
death penalty while calling it “the ultimate denial of human rights” and “the
premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name
of justice.” According to Amnesty, in 2010, more than 2,000 people were
executed in China followed by 252-plus in Iran, 60-plus in North Korea, 53-plus
in Yemen, 46 in USA and 27-plus in Saudi Arabia.
Although it is now 20 years since the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the review
petition on the death penalty awarded to the 3 assassins- Murugan, Santhan and
Perarivalan is continuing to linger in the courts. The Madras High Court has
now set March 27 as the next date of hearing on the appeal by the convicts that
there was a 11 year delay in the disposal of their mercy petition by the
The death sentence of the 4th convict- Nalini- was commuted to life sentence in
September 2011 following the intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Commenting on India’s growing ambivalence on the contentious issue of death
penalty, The Economist observed in October 2011 that the case of Ajmal Kasab is
being viewed as a “big test” for India. “It will be a brave Indian who demands
that he be spared.”
(source: First Post India)
China adheres to limiting use of death penalty
China is committed to limiting the use of death penalty and has always been
very prudent in using capital punishment, an official with the top legislature
The amendment to the Criminal Law, which was passed in 2011, reduced the types
of crimes punishable by death by 20 percent, or 13 in number, said Lang Sheng,
vice-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's
Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, at a press conference during the ongoing
That a death penalty has to undergo review by the Supreme People's Court is
another effort China has made to control and limit the use of capital
punishment, he said.
On January 1, 2007, the Supreme People's Court resumed the process of reviewing
and approving all death sentences to ensure that lower courts' verdicts are
"Such a procedure reflects China's prudence in the use of the death penalty,"
A draft amendment to the nation's Criminal Procedure Law, submitted Thursday to
the ongoing 5th session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) for third
reading, further specifies the procedures for the Supreme People's Court to
review death penalty cases in order that such cases will be handled "with
sufficient care" and "legal oversight" will be strengthened.
According to the draft, the supreme court shall issue an order approving or
disapproving a death sentence after reviewing it. If the supreme court
overrules the death sentence, it may remand the case for retrial or revise the
Besides, during the reviewing proceedings, the supreme court may question the
defendant and the defense attorney's opinions shall be heard if he so requests,
according to the amendment.
China's current Criminal Procedure Law was enacted in 1979 and amended in 1996.
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