Singapore Executes Malaysian After Final Appeal Dismissed

Dennis Wong
2016.05.20
Kuching
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160520-SG-MY-execution620.jpg Lawyers for Malaysian Kho Jabing, Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss (left) and Alfred Dodwell (right), leave a courtroom in Singapore after a five-judge panel dismissed their appeal, May 20, 2016.
AFP

Singapore hanged Kho Jabing of Sarawak, Malaysia, on Friday afternoon for killing a construction worker eight years ago, after a last-minute stay of execution was lifted.

Rachel Zeng of the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign confirmed that Koh, 32, was executed at 3:30 p.m. at the Changi Prison after meeting with his family.

Kho had been granted the stay on Thursday night after his legal team filed an appeal. On Friday morning, a five-judge panel dismissed the appeal, clearing the way for the unusual afternoon execution. Singapore normally carries out capital punishment at dawn.

“This court should not be seen as a device to undermine the legal process. We cannot allow applications made at the eleventh hour, one after another,” Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin said in dismissing the appeal Friday, according to reports.

Kho’s family, who could not be reached for comment Friday, received a letter from the Singapore Prison Service last week stating the execution was scheduled for the morning of May 20.

The execution brought a sudden end to a six-year legal saga that included a period in which Kho’s sentence was changed to life in prison.

Six-year saga

Kho was sentenced to die in 2010 after the Singapore High Court found him guilty of using a tree branch to kill construction worker Cao Ruyin during a robbery attempt in 2008. Cao, who died six days after being beaten, suffered multiple skull fractures.

In August 2013, following revisions to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty laws, a court sentenced Kho to life and 24 strokes of the cane instead. The prosecution challenged the decision and the top court changed the sentence to death.

Kho’s execution was stayed in November 2015 when his lawyers challenged the verdict. On April 5, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence.

On May 13, Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem told BenarNews the state government had exhausted all efforts to persuade Singaporean authorities to grant Kho clemency.

Condemnation

Global rights group Amnesty International (AI) condemned the execution since it was “mere hours” after Kho’s last chance for a reprieve was dismissed.

“It is disgraceful that Kho Jabing was executed, particularly with such indecent haste, after his final appeal was denied this morning,” AI’s Deputy Director of South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office Josef Benedict said in a statement.

AI’s Malaysia chapter Executive Director Shamini Darshini said that Singapore had taken a step back toward the ranks of countries that use cruel and inhumane forms of punishment.

“He has variously [been] sentenced to death, re-sentenced to life imprisonment and caning, and sentenced to death once more. The ordeal Kho’s family had been put through for the past six years would have been puzzling and utterly cruel,” she said.

Singapore executed six people in 2014 and 2015 – five for drug offenses and one for murder. The government did not release details on their nationalities.

Malaysia has not abolished capital punishment and the government on Tuesday announced 1,041 prisoners are on death row.

In November, Nancy Shukri of the Prime Minister’s department of legal affairs, said the Malaysian government planned to submit a bill to abolish the mandatory death sentence for several crimes, particularly drug-related offenses and possession of firearms.

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