Media Statement – 19/5/2016
Kho Jabing loses second 11th-hour appeal against execution
One day before his scheduled execution, Kho challenged the impartiality of Justice of Appeal Andrew Phang, who presided over two of his previous appeals.
- Posted 19 May 2016 16:33
- Updated 19 May 2016 16:52
Kho challenged the involvement of Justice of Appeal Andrew Phang, who has presided over two of Kho’s previous appeals – one in 2010 and another in 2013. The Malaysian’s lawyer Mr Gino Singh argued JA Phang’s involvement in the 2013 appeal essentially involved the judge deliberating over an appeal against his own decision – the one made in 2010. In both appeals, Kho was sentenced to death.
Kho’s last-minute motion ahead of his imminent execution was heard before five judges sitting in the Court of Appeal – including JA Phang, who disputed Kho’s claims of biasness.
Mr Singh, pointing to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, argued JA Phang should not have presided over Kho’s appeals due to a possible conflict of interest. He added the court’s decision “might have been tainted with apparent biasness”, urging the apex court to postpone Kho’s imminent execution in the interests of justice.
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Kho, 31, had been sentenced to hang in 2010 for killing a man by striking his head with a tree branch in a botched robbery attempt. The victim sustained 14 skull fractures and a brain injury and died six days later.
He appealed against the murder conviction, but his appeal was dismissed in 2011 and he was sent back to death row. JA Phang presided over this appeal.
In 2013, Kho appealed yet again after changes to the law abolishing the mandatory death penalty in certain categories of murder that allowed judges the discretion to sentence an accused to life imprisonment with caning instead. This time, Kho’s appeal was successful and he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane.
But the prosecution appealed, urging the Court of Appeal to reverse the re-sentencing judge’s decision and send Kho back to the gallows. They were successful, and Kho was sentenced to death in January 2015 in a split 3-2 decision. JA Phang was involved in this appeal as well.