KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Convicts can always appeal against sentences they deem excessive, Datuk Liew Vui Keong said today amid public outcry over the 10-year jail and RM50,000 fine for a 22-year-old found guilty of insulting Islam on Facebook.
The de facto law minister was weighing in on the case of Alister Cogia in Kuching, a man described by his family to have mental issues, last week.
“If a person is not happy, he has a right to appeal to the High Court and also if the High Court still affirms that decision, we can call the case to the Court of Appeal.
“But his own motions, he can call for the review of the case, so it is up to the courts,” Liew said.
Local activists and legal practitioners have criticised the sentence meted out by the Magistrate’s Court against Alister, calling the punishment excessive.
The sentence also drew public consternation after Alister was reported to have mental issues and may not be fully cognisant of his offence.
Liew said his position within the Prime Minister’s Department bars him from intervening in the case.
“The executive branch cannot interfere with the decision on this matter,” he said.
The minister then waded into the widely reported release of the Indonesian accused in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Liew clarified the decision to release her was done at the full discretion of the attorney general.
"That is the right of the attorney general to make a decision,” he said, referring the Indonesian accused Siti Aisyah.
"The government cannot intervene in the AG’s decision," Liew told reporters in Parliament.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also said there was no government intervention surrounding the decision to release the Indonesian.
On Monday, Siti Aisyah was discharged not amounting to acquittal in the case of the murder of Kim Jong-nam after being held in custody since being arrested in February 2017.
The Indonesian embassy had said Siti Aisyah’s release was down to a long negotiation process between Jakarta and Putrajaya under the instructions of Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.