"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 25, 2016

Malaysia hangs three men for murder in 'secretive' execution

Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu
Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu
Malaysia has executed three men for murder, their lawyer said, in what rights groups called a “secretive” hanging in which the men’s families were given only two days notice.

“The execution was done between 4:30 and 5:30 this morning,” lawyer Palaya Rengaiah told the Guardian. “They were hanged to death.”

Rengaiah said the families received a letter two days before the execution, advising them to make a last visit to the men and funeral arrangements. He said the men were told on Thursday that they would be hanged on Friday.

Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu, 35, Ramesh Jayakumar, 34, and his brother Sasivarnam Jayakumar, 37, were sentenced to the gallows after they were found guilty by the high court of murdering a 25-year-old man in a playground in 2005.

The trio claimed during court sessions that they were acting in self-defence after being attacked by a group that included the victim.

The Malaysian prison’s department said there were currently more than 1,000 inmates awaiting execution, although none had been killed since 2013, according to Death Penalty Worldwide.

Amnesty International has condemned what it called a “last-minute” execution of the men accused of murder, an offence that carries a mandatory death sentence.

In Malaysia, information on scheduled hangings are not made public before, or sometimes after, they are carried out – a practice Amnesty said was “secretive” and contrary to international standards on the use of the death penalty.

Several high-level officials have spoken against mandatory death sentences in Malaysia, a decades-old law that is also imposed on serious drug, treason and firearms offences.

These voices include the attorney-general, Apandi Ali, who said in November that he would propose to the cabinet that the penalty be scrapped, calling it a “paradox” as it robbed judges of their discretion to impose sentences on convicted criminals.

“If I had my way, I would introduce the option for the judge in cases where it involves capital punishment. Give the option to the judge either to hang him or send him to prison,” he said.

Days after, government minister Nancy Shukri, said she hoped to amend the penal code to abolish the death sentence.

“It is not easy to amend, but we are working on it. I hope to table it next year in March,” Shukri told reporters, adding that the punishment had done little to reduce the number of crimes committed. The motion has not been put to parliament.

Charles Hector, coordinator for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture, on Thursday called for the Sultan of Kedah and the Sultan of Perak, state royalty in the two regions where the men were on death row, to use their power to stop the hangings.

He also urged Skukri, who is the de facto law minister, and the attorney-general, to obtain a stay of execution.

The Guardian was unable immediately to reach the government for comment.

Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s deputy campaign director for south-east Asia and the Pacific, said ahead of the execution that “as discussions on abolishing the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia continue, the Malaysian government must immediately put in place a moratorium on all executions as a first step towards full abolition of the death penalty”.

Source: The Guardian, Oliver Holmes, March 25, 2016


Death row inmate's family regrets not told of his execution
After 2 years on death row, a convict and his family learnt the dreaded news just a day before he was put to death this morning.

Account executive P. Joty, 30, said the family rushed to see her brother Gunasegar on Thursday, after they received a letter which stated he would be executed "soon".

The letter from the Taiping Prison Department gave no date for execution, though it advised them to make arrangements to claim the body for a funeral.

A source from the Malaysian Bar confirmed seeing the letter, saying that it was dated earlier but apparently received only on Wednesday.

When the 25 family members visited Gunasegar in Taiping prison, they were given the bombshell news that he would be hung at dawn on Friday.

"Me and my mother visited him last week. They told us nothing," said Joty, sobbing when reached for a phone interview.

1 of 9 siblings, she had delayed her wedding to stay close to her brother at the Pokok Sena prison, in Kedah, where death row inmates are kept before being transferred to Taiping for execution.

She said the immediate family was given an hour to see him, while the rest had around 40 minutes per group of 10 people.

When The Star asked to speak to Gunasegar's mother, Joty said she was still crying and too distraught to speak.

Gunasegar was on death row for his role in the murder of B. Venukumar, then 24, during a gang fight on April 4, 2005.

Joty said Gunasegar maintained his claim of innocence, telling her "only God knows what happened, but it's bye bye for me".

In court documents sighted by The Star, Gunasegar was charged together with brothers J. Ramesh and J. Sasivarnam, with murdering Venukumar at a playground in Taman Ria Raya, Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Though the trio claimed during the trial that they had been attacked by a gang, which included Venukumar and only defended themselves, the High Court found them guilty in 2011.

The decision was later affirmed by the Court of Appeal in 2012 and Federal Court in 2014.

Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni criticised the Prisons Department's handling of the news, saying the last minute nature of the announcement was "heartless" to the family.

Amnesty International stated its concern on Malaysia's practice of "secretive" executions, saying transparency on the use of the death penalty was an essential safeguard in such cases, as it allowed for greater scrutiny and meaningful debate on the issue.

Despite civil bodies Amnesty International and the Malaysian Bar call for the Government to halt the execution the Gunasegar, Ramesh and Sasivarnam, the trio were put to death at 6.30am this morning.

In a statement on Thursday, Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said it was unfair and unjust to carry out the death sentence while the Government was mulling on abolishing the mandatory death penalty.

Source: The Star, March 25, 2016


Amnesty International denounces 'shocking' Malaysian executions 

Amnesty International said Malaysian authorities hanged 3 convicted murderers on Friday (March 25) despite calls for clemency from rights groups that called the executions "shocking and disturbing", as the country considers scrapping the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the family of one of the executed inmates slammed the authorities for informing them of the execution only a day in advance.

Malaysian and international organisations including the UN's human rights body had this week issued appeals for authorities to stay the expected execution of Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu.

Amnesty said 2 brothers, Ramesh Jayakumar and Sasivarnam Jayakumar, also had been hanged on Friday.

AFP was not able to confirm the hangings. Malaysia does not publicly announce executions and otherwise closely guards information on its application of the death penalty

Malaysian officials have indicated in recent years that the government may review its use of capital punishment, but no progress is known to have been made.

"The fact that these state killings come at a time when the Malaysian government is actively discussing abolition of the mandatory death penalty makes them all the more shocking and disturbing," Amnesty International's Southeast Asia campaigns director Josef Benedict said in a statement.

"These hangings are a sickening reminder that the Malaysian authorities must redouble their efforts to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty."

Gunasegar was sentenced to death for his role in the murder of B. Venukumar, then 24, during a gang fight on April 4, 2005.

His sister, P. Joty, said Gunasegar maintained his claim of innocence, telling her "only God knows what happened, but it's bye bye for me".

P. Joty, 30, said the family rushed to see her brother on Thursday, after they received a letter which stated he would be executed "soon".

The letter from the Taiping Prison Department gave no date for execution, though it advised them to make arrangements to claim the body for a funeral.

A source from the Malaysian Bar confirmed seeing the letter, saying that it was dated earlier but apparently received only on Wednesday.

When 25 family members visited Gunasegar in Taiping prison, they were given the bombshell news that he would be hung at dawn on Friday.

"Me and my mother visited him last week. They told us nothing," said Joty, sobbing in a phone interview.

1 of 9 siblings, she had delayed her wedding to stay close to her brother at the Pokok Sena prison, in Kedah, where death row inmates are kept before being transferred to Taiping for execution.

She said the immediate family was given an hour to see him, while the rest had around 40 minutes per group of 10 people.

The Southeast Asia office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Thursday also had urged a stay of Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu's execution, adding that it was "concerned by Malaysia's practice of carrying out executions in secret".

Around 900 people were on death row in Malaysia, officials have said in recent years, mostly drug offenders.

Since 1960, nearly 450 people have been executed, according to data released in 2011, but activists say they have been extremely rare in recent years.

In 2014, authorities halted plans to execute a Malaysian convicted murderer, Chandran Paskaran, after an outcry from rights groups.

Source: straitstimes.com, March 25, 2016 

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