KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — Two death row inmates who had an appointment with the gallows have been pardoned by Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah and will face a life sentence instead.
Malay daily Sinar Harian today reported Perak Pardons Board secretary Datuk Seri Abdul Puhat Mat Nayan saying that the two convicts’ life sentences came into effect on October 12, after the board’s meeting chaired by Sultan Nazrin.
“They have been in prison for more than 16 years, since 2001. Sultan Perak decreed that their sentence is commuted from the death penalty to life imprisonment,” Abdul Puhat was quoted saying.
According to the news report, the pardon was awarded as part of the Sultan’s upcoming birthday celebration on November 27.
Abdul Puhat said that the Sultan had that pardons or commuting of sentences would only be considered when the convict has repented and regretted their mistakes by apologising and turning a new leaf.
The two drug offenders were convicted under Section 39(B)(1)(a) of the 1952 Dangerous Drugs Act and received the death sentence separately on March 19 and June 15, 2009, after exhausting their appeals at both the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.
The death penalty is mandatory for crimes such as drug trafficking and murder.
A total of 651 Malaysians have been sentenced to death since 1992, most of them for drug offences, according to data disclosed in August this year by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
World human rights group Amnesty International ranked Malaysia tenth in the use of death penalty among the 23 countries that carried out capital punishment last year.
Earlier this year, the federal Cabinet announced its intention to dismantle the mandatory death sentence for drug traffickers and instead give judges discretionary powers in sentencing.
However, the law needs to be amended in Parliament.