16 November 2023 :A total of 11 individuals convicted for drug trafficking became the first batch of inmates to have their death sentence and natural-life imprisonment commuted under the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act.
In November 14 sentence review hearing presided by a three-member panel led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, seven death row convicts saw their death sentence substituted with life imprisonment of 30 years from the date of their arrests.
Two other judges on the panel were Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah and Federal Court judge Datuk Nordin Hassan.
Local Teh Hock Leong, who is currently the longest-serving death row inmate at 24 years and the first applicant, saw his death sentence commuted to 30 years from the date of his arrest in June 1999.
Two Thai nationals — Ouseng-Same-Ae and Mama Sobri Useng — who have both been in prison since 2002 and 2001 respectively, also saw their death sentence replaced with life imprisonment of 30 years.
Four other death row inmates, namely Mohd Salleh Yunos, Wan Mazuki Wan Abdullah, Wan Mohd Azman Hassan and Nazarrimi Sahib also saw their respective death sentence substituted with life imprisonment.
However, Nazarrimi and Wan Mazuki were also ordered by the court to be caned 12 times since they were below the age of 50.
Separately four other inmates, namely Zulkipli Arshad, Wan Yuriilhami Wan Yaacob, Ghazalee Kasim and Mohamad Junaidi Hussin had their natural life imprisonment also replaced with life imprisonment of 30 years.
Natural-life imprisonment is when a convict is sentenced to be imprisoned until their deaths of natural causes.
The four had been initially sentenced to death by the Federal Court and applied for clemency before the Pardons Board to have their sentence commuted to natural life imprisonment before today’s review hearing.
Counsels of the applicants said all the men should be freed as they have served between 21 and 24 years in prison.
“Taking into account the one-third remission for good behaviour in prison, they should be freed to go home,” said lawyer Guok Ngek Seong who was representing Teh.
Attorney General’s Chambers (Appellate & Trial Division) head Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar and deputy head Datuk Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim acting as the respondent, did not object to the applications heard before the court.
Today’s milestone review follows the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act, which came into force on July 4, where mandatory death sentences for offences such as drug trafficking and murder have been removed.
Under this new law, judges have the discretion to impose either the death penalty or a prison sentence for a period of not less than 30 years and up to 40 years, and if not sentenced to death, shall also be punished with whipping of not less than 12 strokes for male convicts below 50 years of age.