Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vui Kong, Kim Fatt, Umi Azlim - Now Georgia is asking that life of its citizens be spared

Now, the ball is at Malaysia's court when another country has appealed for the life of its 2 citizens, who faces the death penalty.

We remember Sabahan Yong Vui Kong(now facing the death penalty in Singapore), Malaysian Ong Kim Fatt (who is facing the death penalty in China) and Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim (who was facing the death penalty in China which was then commuted to life)...

Malaysia really must abolish the death penalty. The risk that an innocent person (or one that does not deserve death like 'drug mules') will be killed by the State is one reason why the death penalty be abolished.  The state of our criminal justice system, and the possibility of 'mistakes'/or lack of effort in defending by lawyers by reason of inadequacies or maybe even 'legal fees' is just another reason for abolition.

Mandatory death penalty or sentences should be removed from our laws returning the power and discretion to judges to decide on sentences that they deem fit. Now, judges just have no choice and this is so wrong. Parliament/Legislative have taken what should really be a power that should be vested in the Judiciary. 

Georgia asks Malaysia not to apply death penalty to two Georgian women

Apr 07 2011, 23:40

On April 6, the General Prosecutor's Office of Georgia sent a letter to law enforcement bodies of Malaysia on the case of the Georgian citizens - Babutsa Gordadze and Daredzhan Kokhtashvili - accused in this country of drug trafficking, asking them to change their penalty to long-term imprisonment instead of death penalty.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on November 4 inspectors accused one of them, Babutsa Gordadze, under the article of "drug trafficking". The second woman - Daredzhan Kokhtashvili - was not charge charged, pending clarification of the circumstances. The hearing of Babutsa Gordadze's case will take place on April 11.

"We gave more information on this case to the Malaysian party. We are running a political dialogue with Malaysia trying to save the lives of our citizens, either by pardon or by means of other fair mechanisms," the "News-Georgia" quotes Sakvarelidze's words.

The official Tbilisi is also interested in custody conditions of the Georgian women and the stage of litigation, the "Georgia Online" reports.

On March 4, Malaysia held a hearing on the case of the two women from Georgia. According to Malaysian law enforcers, Babutsa Gordadze, 26, and Daredzhan Kokhtashvili, 37, tried to bring to Malaysia not 5.7 kg, as previously reported, but 1.5 kg of methamphetamine. - Caucasian Knot, 7/4/2011,Georgia asks Malaysia not to apply death penalty to two Georgian women

23 April 2009 - Kuala Lumpur (Star)

M’sia appeals for clemency for man on China death row

The Foreign Ministry has already sent a clemency appeal for Malaysian Ong Kim Fatt who is on death row in China for drug trafficking, said its Deputy Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong.

Ong is the first one to face the death sentence for a drug offence in China since World War II.

“We have sent a letter to our Chinese counterpart appealing for Ong’s death sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment,” Lee said in a press conference at Wisma MCA on Thursday.

He added that the Malaysian Embassy there has also been appealing to the Chinese court regarding this matter.

“We want to remind all Malaysians to respect and abide by the laws of the countries they are travelling in,” he said.

Ong, 44, was found guilty of trafficking 13 packets of heroin weighing 1,480gm at the Xiamen Gao Qi International Airport on Sept 19, 2007.

Earlier last week, MCA Public Service and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong sought the Foreign Ministry’s help to lessen Ong’s predicament as the death sentence was the first one to be dealt out for a drug offence since World War II.

Ong was to have faced the firing squad in February but the execution was postponed to Apr 29 to fulfil his last wish of meeting his siblings.

MCA Bukit Bintang chairman Datuk Dr Lee Chong Meng, who was also at the press conference, said that he will be accompanying Ong’s brothers, Hock Hooi, 38, and Hock Kiang, 41, to China on Apr 27 to fulfil Ong’s last wish and hopefully get his clemency appeal approved.

Previously, Dr Lee managed to find Ong’s family members as they were coincidentally residing on the top floor of the building where his service centre in Chow Kit is located.

“I hope that Ong is given some leniency as I believe that he was used by a drug syndicate somewhere. He is not a smart man. He can be very naive,” Dr Lee said.

Dr Lee added that it was unlikely that Ong had had enough money to buy the heroin himself.

Meanwhile, Chong said that he had spoken to Interpol’s National Centre Bureau assistant director Supt Gan Tack Guan, who informed him that Interpol was still probing into the matter.

“Investigations will carry on until they find out who the real culprits are. We want the drug syndicate exposed,” he said. - Star, 24/4/2009, Govt asks that death row man be given life sentence instead

DEATH PENALTY: Beijing Sentence Shakes Malaysia's Own Policy
By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 (IPS) - Malaysia's unshakable stand on the death penalty appears to be wavering as a country unites in sympathy and outrage over the plight of a young Malay woman sentenced to death in China for allegedly acting as a drug courier.

Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, 24, a university science graduate from a poor Malay family of rice farmers, admitted to having 2.9 kilograms in her luggage when she was arrested at Shantou airport last January.

She told a court in southeast China during her trial in May 2007, that she was travelling for a highly-paid job she secured over the internet. But she was unaware what was in the bag she was carrying for a Nigerian friend. The judge rejected her explanation and sentenced her to death, the usual sentence for such an offence.

"She thought she was carrying important corporate documents," her mother, Umi Ibrahim, told IPS. "We cry everyday ... what can we do? We want her to live not die."

Most Malaysians appear to share the mother's anguish.

The case is fast-developing into an emotive national issue. Politicians have set aside their differences to halt Lazim's execution. The ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its rival the Islamic fundamentalist Pan Malaysian Islamic Party are even vying in their efforts.

Both are collecting money for the family, working to arrange family visits and promising they will save Lazim from execution.

The government is at a distinct disadvantage in the race to save Lazim. Malaysia's punishment for drug-related crimes is as harsh, if not harsher, than most other countries. The government supports the death penalty.

"Malaysia has suddenly woken up to the fact that ordinary Malaysians are now caught in the same death-penalty trap that we put others in," Nagarajan Surendran, a human rights lawyer and executive co-director of Malaysians Against the Death Penalty, a NGO campaigning against capital punishment, told IPS. Trafficking in more than 200 grams of dangerous drugs carries a death sentence.

"Today there are about 300 people on death row here, mostly for drug offences," Surendran said. Many of the 359 people executed from 1980 to 2001 had been sentenced for drug offences.

Much national outrage is today focused on how the Chinese might eventually end Lazim's life, although her sentence has been suspended for two years on humanitarian grounds. "People are shot in their heads with rifles. It is a horrific way for a young girl to die," said Surendran, expressing a widely-expressed view.

The case has also suddenly brought to public attention a number of others. There are some 30 young Malaysian women either sentenced or awaiting trial for drug-related offences in more than a dozen countries besides China, including Japan, Brazil and Peru. Several could be sentenced to death.

Many are university graduates lured by offers of high salaries and opportunities to travel. Behind the tempting offers are shady front companies run by international drug cartels.

"The syndicates are willing to throw money at the unsuspecting girls before they make their moves," federal narcotics department director Bakri Zinin told local newspapers in November.

The problem of young Malaysians caught ferrying drugs is already posing a major problem for the foreign ministry. Diplomats are kept busy finding defence lawyers, monitoring trails and making regular health and welfare checks on the young women.

"Their fate is a major embarrassment to the government," said Ramu Annamalai Kandasamy, a human rights lawyer representing many such clients and death-row inmates, told IPS. "The government has to come up with a firm policy on how to help the victims on death-row in far off countries."

Surendran's proposal is for Malaysia to introduce an immediate moratorium on executions. This would lift the threat of execution of foreigners on Malaysian soil. Other countries would be likely to respond in kind.

"Malaysia would get a more sympathetic hearing if it imposed a moratorium. One good turn deserves another," he argues.

"People would understand," he adds, suggesting that the public would agree that a change in policy over the death penalty was the most diplomatically effective way of saving the lives of condemned Malaysians on foreign death-rows.

A moratorium could also help secure the reduction in other harsh sentences imposed on Malaysians by foreign courts, diplomatic sources say. Peru was ready to reduce sentences of up to 20 years imposed on Malaysians in return for the sparing five of its nationals on death-row in Malaysia, they add.

Many opposition politicians would support a moratorium, or even total abolition, if it could save the lives of Malaysians like Lazim.

"These girls made a mistake in their youth. They deserve to live, not to be killed so cruelly. Imagine the pain their loved ones are going through," said opposition lawmaker Teresa Kok.

"If Malaysia abolishes the death sentence it can stand on a higher moral ground and ask foreign countries to spare the hangman's noose.

"It is time Malaysia complied with international standards," she added, citing the U.N. General Assembly resolution last December calling for a moratorium on executions. The resolution urged all states that still maintain the death penalty "to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty".


Umi Azlim's life term a relief for family
Sat, Oct 11, 2008
The Star

PASIR PUTIH, Malaysia: The news that her death sentence had been commuted to a life term helped to mend a rift in the family of Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, the Kelantanese girl languishing in a Chinese prison after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

Umi Azlim's father and siblings had been living in sadness since she was caught and sentenced to death last year. To add to their misery, their mother Umi Slaia Ibrahim died of throat cancer in May.

Their father's remarriage in August did not lift their gloom. Instead, it created a rift between him and Umi Azlim's three younger siblings, who preferred to stay with their grandparents.

However, all was forgiven when they received the good news that Umi Azlim's death sentence had been commuted to a life term by the Guangzhou High Court last week.

"I am not the demonstrative type and I never show my emotions in front of my children. But when I told my children about their eldest sister, I cried and they cried too. We then hugged each other.

"We love Kak Long (Umi Azlim's pet name) and as long as she is alive, we still have hope," said a relieved Mohamad Lazim Jusoh at his house in Taman Desa Anda Cherang Tuli here yesterday.

The 52-year-old car mechanic admitted that the news had brought the family closer after the dark times they had been through.

Mohamad Lazim said he was initially sceptical when he received a telephone call from a reporter informing him of the news.

But he was overjoyed when he received confirmation from a state government officer in charge of a fund which was set up to help Umi Azlim fight her case.

"I could not believe the news at first as I thought that the death sentence was final and that my daughter would die there.

"When the officer confirmed the news, I felt like screaming with joy but I remained composed until I got home."

Apart from Umi Azlim, Mohamad Lazim has three other children, twins Umi Azmira and Umi Azuraiha, both 17, and Mohd Azlimuslim, 11.

Mohamad Lazim's only regret was that his late wife was unable to share in the good news.

"She died thinking that her eldest child would be sentenced to death in China.

"My only wish now is to see her. I hope the authorities will help us."

Unlike previous interviews where family members were shy, sad and withdrawn, yesterday they were chatty, upbeat and cheerful.

Umi Azmira described the news as the best Hari Raya gift the family had received.

"We spent a quiet and sad Hari Raya and we badly missed Kak Long and emak (mother). We spent it visiting our mother's grave and we were in no mood to visit our relatives and friends.

"I did not want to visit them as I couldn't face the questions and the looks of sympathy.
"I preferred to stay and study for my examination," said Umi Azmira, who together with her twin sister, will sit the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) soon.

Umi Azlim, a Universiti Malaysia Sabah honours student, was sentenced to death after 2kg of heroin was found in her luggage when she arrived in Shantou last year.

She was believed to have been duped into becoming a drug mule for a syndicate here.

She had been hired by a Kuala Lumpur-based company to market foot massage equipment in China. - AsiaOne News, 11/10/2008, Umi Azlim's life term a relief for family

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