Mother of Malaysian on death row in Singapore, claims her son did not have a fair trial

The family of a Malaysian man convicted of trafficking and sentenced to hang in Singapore has appealed for a judicial review at the KL High Court, claiming that the Malaysian citizen was deprived of a fair trial.

Datchinamurthy Kataiah (32) was sentenced to death in April 2015. He was convicted in Singapore on trafficking 44g of heroine across the Causeway from Johor to Singapore in January 2011.

By the judicial review, Kataiah and his mother Letchumi Arumugam are asking the Malaysian Government to refer the case to the International Court.

The Star reported that both are also seeking the Malaysian Government and Foreign Ministry to declare that they are legally obliged to protect and give Kataiah a right to a fair trial and/or right to life and liberty.

“We are alleging that he was denied a fair trial in Singapore,” Kataiah’s lawyer N. Surendran told reporters at the lobby of the KL Court Complex on Friday (3 Feb).

“All appeals have been exhausted and it is urgent that the application is heard and that the Government takes the necessary steps,” he said.

Mr Surendran said that there was a co-accused, a Singaporean woman, involved in Kataiah’s case.

Mr Surendran said that the Singapore Attorney General (AG) gave the Singaporean woman a certificate of cooperation, that gave her a life sentence. However, the certificate was not given to Kataiah.

“That itself raises issues relating to (a fair trial). The whole system is unfair; it’s not up to AG to decide who lives or dies.” said Surendran.

“The (Malaysian) Government should be doing everything necessary to protect Malaysians overseas facing serious trouble. A human life is at stake here,” Mr Surendran added.

Kataiah’s mother Arumugam said that she could not accept her son’s death penalty.

Mr Surendran translating what Mrs Arumugam have said in Tamil,“The trial was not fair … the process was never done properly. It is something that he can’t accept and I can’t accept.”

“I hope my country Malaysia would do something to help me. I am not just asking for myself, there are also other Malaysians on death row,” she pleaded.

Mrs Arumugam urged the Malaysian Government to fight for her citizens, as lives hang in the balance.

“My son was unfairly punished. I beg and plead to everyone, please fight for my son; please stop this. Save my son, save my son from the noose. He is not a terrorist,” she cried.

Mr M Ravi, the representative of Singapore anti-death penalty campaign said the issue is about the fairness in the process, not the death penalty per se. “The (Singapore) law gives the AG the power to decide who lives and who dies,” Mr Ravi said.

He confirmed the AG can give a certificate of cooperation so that an accused can be re-sentenced. “If you don’t get the certificate, you don’t get to be heard in court. That is a violation of international law and it affects a fair trial,” he said.

Leong Sze Hian, president of Maruah, Singapore Non-Government Organisation for Human Rights, said that according to the latest statistics, there are 24 people on death row in Singapore, of which nine are Malaysians.

“I believe two have already been executed,” Mr Leong said.

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