Apex Court to Hear First Batch of Review Applications by Death Row Prisoners Today

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The Federal Court is expected to hear the first batch of review applications today brought by death row prisoners under the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023 (Act 847).

In a milestone event, the Federal Court will hear eleven review applications and another 14 on Thursday.

Lawyer Guok Ngek Seong, when contacted by Bernama, said the application of his client, Teh Hock Leong, who has been in prison since 1999 and on death row for 20 years, is first on the list.

Teh was convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court in 2003 for trafficking 580.3 grammes of methamphetamine at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and has exhausted all appeals.

His appeal to the Court of Appeal and Federal Court were dismissed on May 14, 2008 and October 23, 2009, respectively.

Guok and senior lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik are representing Teh, 52, who will plead for his death sentence to be commuted to a jail term.

The Federal Court is granted the discretion to review cases involving death sentences in light of Act 847, which took effect on Sept 12 this year.

This follows the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023, 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.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh, early last week, told the Dewan Rakyat that the Federal Court received 924 review applications as of October 31, adding the filing and hearing of reviews of sentences will be held in phases.

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