Friday, August 17, 2007

Two languish on Death Row as judge fails to do his job

Two languish on Death Row as judge fails to do his job
KUALA LUMPUR: Two men are languishing on Death Row because the judge who convicted them at the Seremban High Court five years ago has not provided the grounds of judgment.
Another man was ordered by the same judge to be held at the Sungai Buloh prison at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan on grounds of insanity.

Haszaidi Hasan was sent to the gallows after he was found guilty of trafficking in dadah while Abdul Aziz Mohd Sharif was convicted of murdering his girlfriend’s father.

Their lawyers filed the notice of appeal soon after the judge, who now sits in the Federal Court, delivered oral decisions in 2002.

Both are in the Kajang prison.
Haszaidi’s counsel, Rusli Husin, said he filed an appeal sometime back but the written judgment had not been issued.

A check with the Attorney-General’s Chambers showed that Haszaidi was convicted on Feb 7, 2002 but the grounds of judgment is still not available.

Counsel Harbhajan Singh, who is representing Aziz, said he had sent five reminders to the High Court in Seremban for the grounds of the decision.

"Sad to say, they did not have the decency to reply to the letters."

He said even the Kajang prison authorities sent a letter to the judiciary to expedite Aziz’s appeal but did not receive any response either.

Harbhajan said when Aziz’s mother asked why the appeal was delayed, he told her the appeal could not be heard unless the trial judge provided the written judgment.

He said Aziz’s parents were concerned about his deteriorating health as Aziz, in his late 20s, had been kept in solitary confinement since July 8, 2002.

Omar Mohd Bashri was charged with murder of a teenager but was acquitted on grounds of insanity by the same judge on July 27, 2002.

The judge ordered Omar to be held at the Sungai Buloh prison at the pleasure of the Negri Sembilan ruler.

His counsel had also filed an appeal against the decision while the public prosecutor had filed a cross-appeal in 2002.

The lawyer and the Attorney-General’s Chambers are waiting for the judge to provide the grounds of decision.

Lawyer Haresh Mahadevan said he was appealing that Omar be acquitted since there was no eyewitness to the crime.

The prosecution said the accused should be sentenced to death on grounds that Omar was aware of his act.

The judge, however, ruled that the accused was under delusion when the crime was committed.

Haresh said he had written to the Sungai Buloh prison director two years ago asking that a doctor examine Omar again for the purpose of obtaining a pardon.

"Unfortunately, there was no reply and I am in the dark about the health of the accused."

He said he would be writing next week to the court to find out if the judge had completed the grounds for the decision.

In criminal cases, the Court of Appeal cannot hear appeals without written judgments.

On July 23, the New Straits Times featured a story on the consequences of judicial officers not writing judgments and has also referred that this judge has not provided written grounds or deliver decisions in at least 30 criminal and civil cases.

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