Apex Court to hear death row inmates' historic pleas to escape the gallows
PUTRAJAYA - History is on the verge of being made today as the Federal Court is poised to embark on a series of hearings initiated by death row inmates seeking a second chance at life.
The first of the 11 incarcerated prisoners to have their review applications heard will be that of Teh Hock Leong, 52, who has been imprisoned since 1999 and on a 20-years death row.
Convicted and sentenced to the gallows by the Shah Alam High Court in 2023, Teh was found guilty of trafficking 580.3 grammes of methamphetamine at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Like others who sought to save themselves from the noose after exhausting all legal avenues, Teh's bid was made doable under the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023 (Act 847).
Teh will be represented by lawyers Guok Ngek Seong and Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik. They planned to plead for Teh's death sentence to be commuted to a jail term.
The enforcement of Act 847 came into effect on Sept 12, following the abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 -- effective on July 4 --, which essentially removed mandatory death sentences for offences such as drug trafficking and murder.
Under Act 847, 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.
Last week, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh told the Dewan Rakyat that the Federal Court received 924 review applications as of Oct 31, adding the filing and hearing of reviews of sentences will be held in phases.
The Federal Court will be hearing another 14 review applications on Thursday.- BERNAMA