PUTRAJAYA, Jan 9 — A former personal driver who was convicted of trafficking in 20.5kg of drug in 2015 was given a new lease on life when the Federal Court here today set aside his death sentence.
Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, heading a panel of five judges, acquitted and discharge Joni Rizal Rustam, 44, on three counts of drug trafficking after finding the elements of trafficking not been established by the prosecution.
“Hence, the conviction for drug trafficking is not safe. Therefore, the court acquitted and discharged the first appellant (Joni Rizal) and the death sentence set aside,” he said.
Joni Rizal, who was unrepresented and submitted on his own, was grinning when Ahmad handed down the decision on his appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision on October 5, 2017 in upholding the death sentence meted out by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on August 26, 2016, after finding him guilty of the charges.
Other judges sitting on the panel were the Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and Federal Court judges Tan Sri Ramly Ali, Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman and Datuk Rohana Yusuf.
Meanwhile, Joni Rizal’s girlfriend, Noorayuni Kamsani, 33, who was sentenced to death for trafficking in 18.742kg of methamphetamine and 1.798kg methylenedioxy methamphetamine, broke down in tears after the court set aside the death sentence and replaced it with a 20-year imprisonment.
Noorayuni, an online businesswoman, was the second appellant.
The panel set aside the death sentence on grounds that the prosecution could only established the case against her for drug possession under Section 12 (2) of the dangerous Drugs Act and instead of Section 39B(1)(a) of the same law for trafficking.
The High Court sentenced Joni Rizal and Noorayuni to death after finding them guilty on three counts of drug trafficking a total of 20.5kg drug at condominium PV20, Platinum Lake Condo, Setapak, Kuala Lumpur at 11am on May 22, 2015.
Following which, they appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed their appeal and upheld the death sentence.
Noorayuni was represented by lawyers Datuk C. Vignesh Kumar and Daniel Annamalai Subramaniam, while deputy public prosecutor K. Mangai prosecuted. — Bernama