PUTRAJAYA, April 18 — The Court of Appeal granted Sam Ke Ting a stay of execution following her six-year sentence by the High Court last week over the 2017 deaths of eight teenagers who were riding basikal lajak on a poorly-lit highway in Johor.
The court set RM10,000 as bail with one surety.
“The applicant will be released on RM10,000 bail with one surety and we will grant the stay of execution and leave for application for appeal,” Judge Datuk P. Ravinthran said today while delivering his judgment.
He said he would allow the defence 14 days to submit their appeal and Sam’s lawyer Muhammad Faizal Mokhtar said they would do so immediately.
Sam was charged with reckless or dangerous driving, resulting in the death of the eight cyclists at 3.20am in 2017 at Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, Johor Baru. She was 22 then.
The accident reportedly involved a group of 30 teenagers, who were riding lajak bicycles — a type of modified bicycle with no brakes.
After the High Court sentencing on Monday, Sam’s lawyer had asked for a stay of execution but Judge Datuk Abu Bakar Katar denied it on the grounds that they had yet to get approval from the Court of Appeal.
Abu Bakar said the Magistrate’s Court had erred in failing to decide the respondent’s defence without being under oath.
During today’s proceedings, Faizal said this was one of the questions of law brought up by Judge Ravinthran for review.
There were another five points of contention which are, if Sam was the person responsible for the accident or the cyclists, the acceptance of evidence during the trial when the accused was not in Court to give their statement, if the speed of the car which was clocked and registered in Court at 45.33 kilometres per hour can be deemed as dangerous compared to the location of the cyclists on the main road at the time of the incident and the last point was if there is a burden of care for the accused to have been more careful and predict the risks involved in riding on the road at a dark, winding and hilly road.
“These are the six points which are the main points we will elaborate more on during this process,” said Faizal adding that they were strapped for time due to the decision made on Wednesday in Johor Baru and Thursday is not a full working day since Johor observes weekends on Friday and Saturday.
“With the decisions today Judge Abu Bakar Katar will prepare the grounds and I believe that he has his reasons for overturning the Magistrate Court’s ruling.
“So while I agree the High Court judges may be more experienced, we cannot deny the uniqueness of the Magistrate Court judges who have exclusivity and can see the entire proceedings from day one, in person, for the three years the case was in Court.
“These are the advantages of having to listen to witnesses in person. These are the plus and minuses when comparing the Magistrate and High Court. So again no doubt the High Court judges are more experienced but in this case the Magistrate’s Court was more privy to the case,” he added.
Sam has been in jail since Wednesday and upon posting bail will be allowed to go free. She wore a striking blue baju kebaya and was subdued while in Court.
She was together with her family members.
DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh and Teo Nie Ching were also in court today.
Ramkarpal thanked the prosecution for not objecting to bail.
“Certainly there are issues here which merit proper consideration once leave has been allowed since she had been acquitted before. On behalf of DAP we will continue to support her,” he said.
When asked what he felt about former Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas filing appeal against Sam’s acquittal in 2019 when Pakatan Harapan were in government he said at the time he too felt it should not have happened.
“For me, legally speaking, the AG has discretion to challenge it but legally speaking it should have stopped there. From what I’ve read and so on I feel there was enough doubt raised. Now it has reached a stage where the High Court has allowed the prosecution’s appeal.
“So I think we should let the law take its course and I hope that all proper considerations relating to the appeal will be taken into account, it was purely at the discretion of Tommy Thomas back then so we cannot comment adversely on that,” he said.
On October 10 last year, the Johor Baru Magistrate’s Court upheld the decision of the accused to be acquitted of the charges which occurred on February 18, 2017.
The eight victims involved were Mohamad Azrie Danish Zulkefli, 14 (at the time of the incident); Muhamad Shahrul Izzwan Azzuraimie, 14; Muhammad Firdauz Danish Mohd Azhar, 16; Fauzan Halmijan, 13; Mohamad Azhar Amir, 16; Muhammad Harith Iskandar Abdullah, 14; Muhammad Shahrul Nizam Marudin, 14 and Haizad Kasrin, 16.