PUTRAJAYA, July 17 — After six years in prison, a Malawian woman was set free by the Federal Court today on a charge of trafficking 1775.4g of methamphetamine.
A five-member bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Seri David Wong Dak Wah allowed Vania Osman’s appeal to set aside her conviction and sentence.
“The appellant (Vania) is now free to go,” said Justice Wong who presided with Federal Court judges Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin, Datuk Rohana Yusuf, Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan.
In his decision, Justice Wong said the prosecution did not call one Derrick Randall as a witness to rebut the defence case that Vania had by mistake taken the bag in which the drug was found and thus she (Vania) was denied a fair trial.
Vania Osman, a student aged 17 years old and 11 months at the time of the alleged commission of the offence in 2013, was found guilty by the Penang High Court in 2016 for trafficking in the drug and was ordered to be detained in a prison at the pleasure of the Governor of Penang.
Although Vania was found guilty of the offence which carried a mandatory death sentence, the then Judicial commissioner Collin Lawrence Sequerah (now High Court judge) had applied section 97 of the Child Act 2001 which prohibit death sentence being carried out on a child.
Vania, now 24, was charged with trafficking in the drug at the arrival hall of the Bayan Lepas International airport in Penang at 10.20am on October 5, 2013. She lost her appeal at the Court of Appeal.
In a turquoise-coloured baju kurung, Vania was seen crying after the court pronounced the decision.
According to the facts of the case, Vania was travelling from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Singapore on transit and then onwards to Penang before her arrest.
In his judgment, Sequerah said since Randall had also been arrested on the same day and had in his possession a bag containing women’s clothing with the tag in Vania’s name while Vania was carrying a bag containing man’s clothing with a tag in Randall’s name showed the duo had devised a clever scheme to attempt to evade detection and to exculpate themselves should they be found out.
Randall, a South African, was acquitted and discharged by the Court of Appeal last year on a drug trafficking charge and his acquittal was also affirmed by the Federal Court.
Vania was represented by lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik while deputy public prosecutor Ku Hayati Ku Haron appeared for the prosecution. — Bernama