Judges can still mete out the death sentence

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 – While Malaysia is working towards abolishing the set mandatory death sentence for 11 offences in the country currently, a criminal can still be given a death sentence for a serious crime, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar clarified today.

In an interview with television channel Astro Awani Monday, the minister said there were presently 33 offences including the 11 (with mandatory death sentence) that will still carry the possibility of a death sentence if a serious crime is proved beyond doubt and the judge decides a death sentence is fit for the offence.

Clarifying the government’s plan to abolish the mandatory sentence, Wan Junaidi said currently the judges have no choice but to give the death sentence when a crime is proved beyond doubt in a case tried under the 11 offences that carry the mandatory death sentence.

When the mandatory death sentence is abolished, the judge presiding over a case under the said 11 offences will have the discretion of meting out an alternate sentence that he sees fit according to the offence and factors surrounding the case. While it will not be mandatory, he can still pass a death sentence on a convict.

Meanwhile, the death sentence can still be passed by a judge for 33 capital crimes that include murder, drug trafficking, treason, acts of terrorism, waging war against the King, rape resulting in death or rape of a child.

Wan Junaidi said the bill for abolishing the mandatory death penalty will be tabled in the Parliament in October.

On the status of convicts who have already been handed the mandatory death sentence, he said a tribunal would be set up to study their cases. He said a request has been made that the moratorium on their death sentence be also extended till the study on all aspects involving the abolishment of the death penalty and its alternatives are fully carried out. It has to be correct and in line with the Constitution, he added.