‘Canny Ong’s murderer delayed submitting appeal for pardon’

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PETALING JAYA: The Selangor Pardons Board today said it could not process a clemency petition by former aircraft cabin cleaner Ahmad Najib Aris as he did not submit his appeal soon after the Federal Court confirmed his death sentence in 2009.

Board secretary Mazalan Md Noor said the Prisons Department, in a letter dated July 15, 2010, had confirmed to the board’s secretariat that Ahmad Najib, who murdered IT analyst Canny Ong Lay Kian, was then not ready to file the petition although it had reminded the prisoner.

“So the delay in managing his petition was not an omission on the part of the board,” he said in a statement.

It is unclear when Ahmad Najib finally filed his petition to the board as his lawyers who represented him in court did not handle the matter.

Ahmad Najib was hanged on Sept 23 for the crime he committed in 2003 in Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya.

The trial gripped national headlines as gory details of the abduction, rape, murder and the dumping of Ong’s body into a manhole before it was torched, emerged.

In 2005, the Shah Alam High Court found him guilty of murder and rape of Ong, then 28.

The trial court also sentenced him to 20 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the rotan for the crime.

In 2008, the Federal Court upheld the sentence and conviction.

The following year, Ahmad Najib failed to obtain the Federal Court’s permission to review his conviction and death sentence, saying that there was no miscarriage of justice.

Mazalan’s statement was in response to an FMT report which quoted Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh urging the Pardons Board to impose a time limit on clemency petitions for those sentenced to death.

He said it was unfair to keep these condemned prisoners waiting as they languish on Death Row after having exhausted their legal appeals.

Ramkarpal, a lawyer who specialises in criminal cases, said such a situation also physically and mentally affected family members of prisoners.

“I hope the Pardons Board in every state will have a timeframe in deciding whether to approve petitions for clemency,” he had said.

Mazalan said the board was sensitive and committed, and would recommend pardon for prisoners who were qualified for clemency.

“The decision could not be disputed as it was the prerogative of the Ruler (of Selangor) after obtaining and considering the advice of the Attorney-General and other board members,” he said.

“It is hoped this statement will alleviate any allegation in the FMT report which questioned the integrity and transparency of the board in carrying out its function and role,” he said.

Mazalan said the board met at least twice a year or more as opined by the Sultan of Selangor, who is its chairman.

“This is not only to protect the rights and interest of prisoners, but also that of the victims and their families.

“As such, there is no issue of delay in conducting hearings of petitions,” Mazalan said, adding that the Selangor’s Pardons Board was the most active compared to other states.

He said the right to submit appeals to the board was the responsibility of prisoners or their representatives in accordance with the Prison Rules 2000.

Mazalan said between 2000 and July this year, the board handled 289 petitions.

He said of the 38 death sentence appeals, only three were given full pardon, while 24 had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment of 30 years, and the petitions of the remaining 11 were dismissed.