A Malaysian High Court on Monday sentenced a Nigerian man to death after he was found guilty of drug trafficking.
Judicial Commissioner, Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against 34-year-old Oluigbo Eric Chimeze.
Mr Oluigbo allegedly distributed 22.159kg of cannabis at a traffic light in Napoh, heading to Bukit Kayu Hitam at about 6.45am on Sept 1, 2010.
He was charged under Section 39 (B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.
The accused was represented by Counsel B. Murthy while prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor, Noor Fadzila Ishak.
According to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 of Malaysia as amended in 2006:
1. No person shall, on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person, whether or not such other person is in Malaysia —
(a) traffic in a dangerous drug,
(b) offer to traffic in a dangerous drug, or
(c) do or offer to do an act preparatory to or for the purpose of trafficking in a dangerous drug.
2. Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be punished on conviction with death.
The number of people executed in Malaysia remains unknown, even as reported death sentences for drugs appear to be increasing in recent years. While Malaysia is generally not considered to be a high-volume executing state it has sentenced people to death in high numbers, mostly for drug related offences.
Provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act also give Malaysian authorities the power to detain drug trafficking suspects without warrant and without a court appearance for up to sixty days. After such period, the Home Ministry can issue a detention order, which entitles the detainee to an appearance before a court to argue for his or her release. Without the court’s release of the suspect, the person can be held for successive two-year intervals. An advisory board reviews the suspect’s detention, but such a process falls far short of the procedural rights of a court proceeding. It has been alleged that police detain people under this Act after they have been acquitted by the courts.
Only High Courts have the jurisdiction to sentence someone to death. Juvenile cases involving the death penalty are heard in High Courts instead of the juvenile court where other juvenile cases are heard. Appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are automatic. The last resort for the convicted is to plead pardon for clemency. Pardons or clemency are granted by the Ruler or Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of the state where the crime is committed or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong if the crime is committed in the Federal Territories or when involving members of the armed forces. Death sentences are carried out by hanging as provided in Section 281 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Pregnant women and children may not be sentenced to death.
Malaysia sentenced 50 people to death for drug offences in 2009 – more than double the figure from 2008.