KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights organisations believe that Sarawakian-born Kho Jabing, who is scheduled to be executed in Singapore on Friday, may not have been given a fair trial when his case was brought to the Court of Appeal on Jan 14 last year.
Kho was convicted of murder in 2010 in Singapore and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty on July 30, 2010.
However, after the 2012 review of the mandatory death penalties, the High Court re-sentenced Kho to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane on Aug 14, 2013.
Then, on Jan 14, 2015, the Court of Appeal re-imposed the death penalty in a three-to-two decision.
“We’ve always focused on putting forth the question of whether the death penalty was indeed suited for Kho since it wasn’t a unanimous decision.
“But Kho’s lawyer told me that something else of prominence in his case is that one of the three judges who heard his appeal in January last year was also the same judge who first sentenced him to death.
“Now, whether this is just or not must be considered,” said Suaram Project Coordinator Dobby Chew at a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) here today.
KLSCAH Civil Rights Committee Vice-Chairman Ngeow Chow Ying, who was also present at the press conference, said there were now two aspects that needed to be carefully examined in Kho’s case which warranted “at the very least” a stay of execution.
“Justice not only needs to be done but needs to be seen to be done.
“Singapore should grant Kho clemency in order to right the wrong that has been done to him as there has been so much unfairness that he has gone through during the course of his case,” she said.
She was referring to Kho’s re-sentencing as well as the newly-acquired information that the judge who re-sentenced him was also the same judge who sentenced him to death in the first place.
She added that since the death penalty was an “irreversible decision”, there should be no doubt that the punishment indeed fitted the crime, unlike in Kho’s case where one of the three judges had decided against the death penalty.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International Malaysia campaigner Gwen Lee, who was also present, said although the Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem had on May 13 said that he had done all he could to save Kho, she believed that “as long as he is still alive, there was always more that those in power can do”.
“We are urging everyone in power to sign the petition requesting the Singapore Government to grant Kho clemency and please stop saying that you’ve tried everything,” she said.
Chew agreed with Lee’s statement saying that the Malaysian Government could still file for an injunction with the International Court of Justice to request a stay of execution, although he admitted that he was not sure how long the process would take.
“Since Kho’s execution is set for less than 72 hours away, time was of the essence.
“If I’m not mistaken, it would take 24 hours for the Malaysian Government to communicate with the International Court of Justice and then another day for communications to reach Singapore. So it should be about two to three days, but I’m not sure.”
The NGOs have called on the public to sign the petition requesting clemency be granted to Kho. Those who are sympathetic can sign the online petition at amnesty.my/khojabing_lastbid