Sunday, February 26, 2017

UN special rapporteur seeks halt to execution of brothers

UN special rapporteur seeks halt to execution of brothers

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, has appealed for a halt to the execution of two brothers convicted of a 2006 murder.

“To proceed with their execution would be in flagrant violation of international standards for the application of the death penalty and would be tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” the UN human rights expert warned.

“There are strong indications that the death penalty may be carried out against the Batumalai brothers following judicial procedures that do not fulfil the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process,” said Callamard, stressing that fundamental safeguards had not been observed.

She based this on reports that the brother's claims were disregarded by the court, which failed to call the dead man’s wife as a witness, whose testimony may have corroborated theirs.

The police also reportedly failed to take blood samples and fingerprints to establish any direct link to the accused brothers to the crime.

Suthar Batumalai and B Ramesh Batumalai, were given the death penalty in 2010 for their alleged involvement in a killing four years earlier. During trial, both men pleaded innocent, and have maintained that they intervened only to stop two other men who were attacking the victim.

Having exhausted all legal avenues of appeal, they were set to face execution yesterday.

A new clemency petition was submitted on Feb 23 for consideration by the Negri Sembilan ruler, as the murder case occurred in the state, and the Pardons Board.

Callamard said: “I urge the authorities to approve this clemency request. The executions of the Batumalai brothers must be halted immediately, and they should be re-tried in compliance with international standards.”
The expert also warned against the mandatory use of the death penalty in Malaysia for various crimes, like murder.
“Legislation that leaves courts with no choice but to impose death sentences for specific crimes violates various human rights standards.

A mandatory death sentence necessarily fails to take into account mitigating circumstances that might otherwise show the specific crime to be less serious,” she said.

The execution of the two brothers yesterday was put off, but is reported to have been rescheduled.

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