The execution was postponed at the eleventh hour by the prisons department upon the intervention of the Johor Sultan.
Speaking to FMT, Chandran’s brother Thamotharan said that he received a surprise call from an official from the prison around midnight informing him that they have decided to postpone the execution.
According to the elated Thamotharan, the postponement was on the orders of the Johor Sultan late night yesterday.
“My family and I are extremely happy with the news received at the last hour. Our deepest gratitude goes to the Johor Sultan for intervening at last moment,” said Thamotharan.
It is believed that the execution – ordered by a Johor Baru High Court in 2008 – was suspended following a clemency appeal made by the family to the Johor Sultan to pardon Chandran.
FMT also learnt that there had been plenty of backroom political play for Chandran’s death penalty to be suspended in view of the government’s impending decision to look into UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations to abolish death sentence. Putrajaya had informed the Council last year that it would make its decision by March 2014.
Thamotharan also expressed his utmost gratitude to the Barisan Nasional government led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for his concern on this issue.
He also thanked Hindraf and its chairman P Waythamoorthy, who is also a deputy minister in the PM’s Department, for taking this matter up with the government.
Chandran was sentenced to death in 2008 after he was found guilty by the Johor Bahru High Court for the murder of K Muthuraman in Ulu Tiram, Johor in 2003.
His family was informed of the execution on Feb 3 this year via a notice from the Prison’s Department that the death sentence was scheduled to be carried out this morning.
Chandran’s appeals to the Appeals Court and Federal Court were both dismissed respectively and they upheld the High Court decision on April 16, 2008. Chandran was convicted under section 302 of the Penal Code.
Following the dismissal of his appeals, Chandran had then appealed to the Prison’s Pardon Board in 2012, but he was again turned down.
Chandran was only 25 years old when he was convicted for the murder in 2003. He has been in prison for the past 11 years.
Following the public plea made by the family yesterday, various local and international organisations had called on the government to suspend the execution.
“I now hope the government will come out with a favourable reply to the UN Human Rights Council’s to do away with death sentencing,” he told FMT.
He also thanked all Hindraf activists for their tireless work in ensuring Chandran’s life was spared until a proper government decision was made.
“I am also aware of the pain and sorrow suffered by the victim’s (Muthuraman’s) family. We at Hindraf will make the necessary arrangements to get the two families to meet and have a proper closure on this matter,” he said.
Phil Robertson, the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division also welcomed the sultan’s move.
“Malaysia should now take the next step and formally commute Chandran’s sentence to an appropriate penalty that would remove him from death row.
“It’s time that Malaysia join the rapidly growing international movement of states that have abolished the death penalty,” he said.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International (AI) also lauded the sultan’s move to halt Chandran’s execution and called for an immediate moratorium on the use of capital punishment.
“The risk to his life, however, is not over, and his death sentence must be commuted immediately,” AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni said in a statement.
She stressed that Putrajaya must “urgently take a serious look at its practices around the death penalty”.
“A first step must be to reform the laws on mandatory death penalty for certain crimes,” she said.