The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

With the execution of Aum Shinrikyo leader and six of his followers, Japan looks to leave behind an era of tragedy. 
On July 6, 2018, Japanese authorities executed seven members of the religious movement Aum Shinrikyo (Aum true religion, or supreme truth), which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack and a series of other atrocities. None of the seven of the executed men were directly involved in releasing the gas on that tragic day; four of those who did remain under a death sentence, and their executions may be imminent.
The seven executed were involved in planning and organizing the various crimes committed by Aum. Asahara Shoko (born Matsumoto Chizuo), was the founder and leader of the movement, having developed the doctrinal system instrumental to Aum’s violence and its concept of a final cosmic war of good (Aum) against evil (the corrupt material world and everyone — from the Japanese government to the general public — who lived in it). Asahara is believed to have given …

Singapore: ‘Judge who sent Kho Jabing to hang also heard his appeal’

Singapore's Changi Prison, Kho Jabing
Singapore's Changi Prison, Kho Jabing
NGOs claim Sarawakian Kho Jabing, who is to be hanged in less than 72 hours, may not have had a fair trial in Singapore as a result.

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights organisations believe that Sarawakian-born Kho Jabing, who is scheduled to be executed in Singapore on Friday, may not have been given a fair trial when his case was brought to the Court of Appeal on Jan 14 last year.

Kho was convicted of murder in 2010 in Singapore and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty on July 30, 2010.

However, after the 2012 review of the mandatory death penalties, the High Court re-sentenced Kho to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane on Aug 14, 2013.

Then, on Jan 14, 2015, the Court of Appeal re-imposed the death penalty in a three-to-two decision.

“We’ve always focused on putting forth the question of whether the death penalty was indeed suited for Kho since it wasn’t a unanimous decision.

“But Kho’s lawyer told me that something else of prominence in his case is that one of the three judges who heard his appeal in January last year was also the same judge who first sentenced him to death.

“Now, whether this is just or not must be considered,” said Suaram Project Coordinator Dobby Chew at a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) here today.

KLSCAH Civil Rights Committee Vice-Chairman Ngeow Chow Ying, who was also present at the press conference, said there were now two aspects that needed to be carefully examined in Kho’s case which warranted “at the very least” a stay of execution.

“Justice not only needs to be done but needs to be seen to be done.

“Singapore should grant Kho clemency in order to right the wrong that has been done to him as there has been so much unfairness that he has gone through during the course of his case,” she said.

She was referring to Kho’s re-sentencing as well as the newly-acquired information that the judge who re-sentenced him was also the same judge who sentenced him to death in the first place.

She added that since the death penalty was an “irreversible decision”, there should be no doubt that the punishment indeed fitted the crime, unlike in Kho’s case where one of the three judges had decided against the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Malaysia campaigner Gwen Lee, who was also present, said although the Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem had on May 13 said that he had done all he could to save Kho, she believed that “as long as he is still alive, there was always more that those in power can do”.

“We are urging everyone in power to sign the petition requesting the Singapore Government to grant Kho clemency and please stop saying that you’ve tried everything,” she said.

Chew agreed with Lee’s statement saying that the Malaysian Government could still file for an injunction with the International Court of Justice to request a stay of execution, although he admitted that he was not sure how long the process would take.

“Since Kho’s execution is set for less than 72 hours away, time was of the essence.

“If I’m not mistaken, it would take 24 hours for the Malaysian Government to communicate with the International Court of Justice and then another day for communications to reach Singapore. So it should be about two to three days, but I’m not sure.”

The NGOs have called on the public to sign the petition requesting clemency be granted to Kho. Those who are sympathetic can sign the online petition at amnesty.my/khojabing_lastbid

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday, May 17, 2016

Sarawakian's execution up to Singapore president

KUCHING - If Singapore President Tony Tan does not reconsider Sarawakian Kho Jabing's new clemency petition, then the murder convict will be executed predawn on Friday.

As recently as early this month, it was assumed Kho, 31, could have at least three more months pending a fresh clemency petition.

"However, it has come to our attention that the president, while acknowledging Kho's intention to file a new clemency petition, has taken the position that his decision to reject the previous clemency petition in October 2015 still stands," said a joint statement released by human rights activists.

"It is unclear if Tan will consider the new clemency petition once it is filed."

The press release was issued by We Believe in Second Chances and the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign.

Co-signees include Amnesty International, the Sarawak Advocates Association, Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, Reprieve Australia, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network and Center for Orang Asli Concerns.

Twelve relatives of other inmates on death row in Singapore also joined in the group petition. They include sisters, mothers and fiancees.

The campaigners are urging the president to grant clemency to Kho and commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.

"The fact that one High Court judge and two Appeal judges have expressed the opinion that the death penalty is not an appropriate punishment for Kho Jabing shows there continues to be doubt a death sentence is justified in this case.

"It is of utmost importance this case not be rushed.

"We call on the president to stay the execution scheduled for May 20, as to allow a reasonable time for the consideration of Kho's new petition," the statement added.

Kho received a letter from the Singapore Prison Service on May 12 informing him that his execution had been scheduled. Kho was convicted of murder in 2011.

The announcement came as a shock to family members who have flown to Singapore.

"We do not condone Kho's crime, nor do we seek to erase the hurt he has caused to the victim's family," his family, including mother Lenduk and sister Jumai, said.

During the campaigning period of the recent Sarawak polls, the family staged a widely reported press conference, urging for help from local politicians.

The campaigners pointed out that the case involving Kho had been traumatic due to amendments made to Singapore's mandatory death penalty and appeals lodged by the prosecution.

The campaigners said Kho had, over the years, been sentenced to death, then life imprisonment (with caning), then death again.

This back-and-forth has taken a horrific toll not just on Kho as the inmate, but his family too.

Source: News Asia One, May 17, 2016

HRW: Grant clemency to death row inmate in Singapore

Singapore President Tony Tan should urgently grant clemency to death row prisoner Kho Jabing, who is due to be executed on May 20, Human Rights Watch has said.

Jabing was convicted of the murder of Cao Ruyin in 2007.

On 5 April 2016, the Court of Appeal, Singapore’s highest court, dismissed Kho Jabing’s appeal. An Appeals Court panel in January 2015 had reversed, by 3 to 2, a high court ruling overturning Kho Jabing’s death sentence.

At dispute was whether his actions during a botched robbery had been done in “blatant disregard of human life”. At the time of Kho Jabing’s conviction, Singapore law imposed a mandatory death penalty for the offence, thus preventing the court from considering the full circumstances of the crime.

“President Tan should grant clemency to Kho Jabing in recognition of sentencing reforms under Singapore law,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The death penalty is always cruel, and a man’s life should not hinge on a legal technicality.”

Mandatory death sentences are contrary to the rights to a fair trial, Human Rights Watch said. As the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stated in 2005, a mandatory death sentence “makes it impossible [for the court] to take into account mitigating or extenuating circumstances and eliminates any individual determination of an appropriate sentence in a particular case…. The adoption of such a black-and-white approach is entirely inappropriate where the life of the accused is at stake.”

In 2012, Singapore’s parliament amended the Penal Code to provide courts with some discretion in sentencing certain categories of murder, including murder without intent. Since the change of law was considered retroactive, Kho Jabing sought a review of his death sentence, stating the murder had not been pre-meditated, and there had been no “blatant disregard for human life.”

In August 2013, the High Court agreed and re-sentenced Kho Jabing to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane. Kho Jabing’s accomplice in the crime, Galing Anak Kujat, had his conviction for murder overturned, and the court re-sentenced him for committing robbery with hurt and sentenced him to 18 and a half years in prison and 19 strokes of the cane.

Singapore is one of few countries that retains the death penalty, claiming without evidence that capital punishment deters crime. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all cases because of its inherent cruelty and irreversibility.

“Singapore’s continued use of the death penalty has no place in a modern state,” Robertson said. “President Tan should cut through the complexities and controversies of this case and grant Kho Jabing clemency so that he is imprisoned for life.”

Source: aliran.com, May 17, 2016

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