Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Malaysian murder convict hanged in Singapore: police

Source: Dunya News Network (21 May 2016)

SINGAPORE (AFP) - A Malaysian murder convict was hanged in Singapore Friday, police said, hours after the city-state’s highest court rejected a final bid for him to escape the gallows, sparking condemnation from rights groups.

"A 32-year-old male Malaysian national, Jabing Kho had his death sentence carried out on 20 May 2016 at Changi Prison Complex," the Singapore Police Force said in a statement.

Kho, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for the murder of a Chinese construction worker, had been due to hang in Changi Prison at dawn Friday, but was granted a brief last-minute reprieve after his lawyer filed a challenge before midnight.

The Court of Appeal heard the latest plea Friday morning but said it raised no new arguments about the 2008 robbery gone wrong, clearing the way for the execution.

"This case has been about many things but today, it’s about the abuse of the process of the court," said Court of Appeal Judge Chao Hick Tin.

Allowing Kho to continue with legal challenges would throw the judicial system "into disrepute," he added.

Singapore, one of Asia’s safest cities, takes a strong stand against crime and imposes the death penalty on offences such as murder and drug trafficking.

But human rights groups, which have called on Singapore to abolish capital punishment, condemned the execution.

Josef Benedict, deputy director at Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific regional office, slammed the execution as "disgraceful" particularly as it was carried out so quickly after his final appeal was denied.

"Singapore is completely out of step with their position on the death penalty," said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

"There’s no proof that executions prevent crime," Robertson told AFP.

After Kho was sentenced to death in 2010, Singapore amended its mandatory death penalty for murder, giving judges the discretion to impose life imprisonment under certain circumstances.

Kho’s case was reviewed and he was re-sentenced to a life term in 2013. But state prosecutors appealed that ruling and his death sentence was reinstated in January 2015.

He was scheduled for execution on November 6 last year but another last-minute appeal saved him.

Singapore’s president has rejected appeals to grant clemency to Kho.

Kho’s accomplice in the crime had his conviction for murder reduced to a lesser charge and got more than 18 years in prison and 19 strokes of the cane.

Singapore executed four people in 2015, one for murder and three for drug offences, according to prison statistics.

Malaysia also uses capital punishment, executing murderers and drug traffickers by hanging, a system which, like that in Singapore, dates back to British colonial rule.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Indonesia is preparing to execute prisoners, police official confirms

Source: The Guardian (4 May 2016)

Indonesia is preparing to execute several prisoners, a police official has said, confirming reports that a year-long pause in the death penalty could be nearing an end.

Authorities have not said how many prisoners will face the firing squad or if foreigners will be among them. Two Britons, Lindsay Sandiford and Gareth Cashmore, are on death row in the south-east Asian nation, which has a notoriously hardline attitude towards drug offences.

“We have had a warning since last month to prepare the place,” said the Central Java provincial police spokesman Aloysius Lilik Darmanto.

“We carried out some rehabilitation of the location, like painting and repairs, because there will probably be more people who will be executed,” he said, adding that the firing squad had been training and receiving counselling.

He declined to say how many prisoners would be executed, or when, or if there would be foreigners among them.

After 14 prisoners were executed in January and April 2015, drawing widespread international condemnation, scheduled executions were postponed, with officials saying the government preferred to focus on reviving the economy.

But President Joko Widodo’s administration has pledged to resume executions by firing squad at an island prison on Nusa Kambangan, claiming they are a necessary response to the country’s “drug emergency”.

The most recent round of executions, in which eight men, including seven foreigners, were shot dead in April last year, sparked condemnation from Australia and Brazil, which had pleaded for their nationals to be spared. Two Australian men, the Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were executed, prompting the temporary withdrawal from Jakarta of Canberra’s ambassador.

Authorities have not given a breakdown of the numbers of people sentenced to death, but according to Amnesty International, there were at least 165 people on death row at the end of 2015, and more than 40% of those were sentenced for drug-related crimes.

Many of them are foreigners, and citizens of France, Britain and the Philippines are known to be among them.

Sandiford, from the UK, was sentenced to death after being convicted in 2013 of trying to smuggle almost 4kg of cocaine into Bali.

Cashmore was sentenced to life imprisonment – later raised to death by firing squad – after he was caught with 6.5kg of crystal meth in his luggage at Jakarta airport in 2011.

A Philippine maid, Mary Jane Veloso, got a last-minute reprieve in April last year in response to a request from Manila after a woman whom Veloso had accused of planting drugs in her luggage gave herself up to police in the Philippines.

Her lawyer said he hoped she would not be in the next batch of prisoners to be executed. “The execution of Mary Jane should be delayed because we are waiting for the legal process in the Philippines,” said the lawyer, Agus Salim.

A lawyer for Serge Atlaoui, a French national, said authorities had not contacted the French embassy on whether his client would be executed in the next batch. Atlaoui, who denies being the “chemist” for an ecstasy factory outside Jakarta, exhausted all legal appeals in mid-2015.

The government typically informs the embassies of foreign convicts only days before their executions.

Indonesia imposed a moratorium on executions for five years before resuming them in 2013. It has executed 14 people, most of them foreigners, under Widodo.

Indonesia’s representative at a UN narcotics conference was jeered last month when he defended the use of capital punishment for drug offences, a penalty that is contrary to international law.