I just want to see my dad again, says daughter of death row inmate

Agilandeswari Mainthan wants her father to be given a fair judgment.

KUALA LUMPUR: Agilandeswari Mainthan was only three years old when her father, Mainthan Arumugam, was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he denies committing.

That was the last time she was ever in her father’s arms.

She turned 18 on Friday, and her biggest birthday wish is to see her father again.

“I cannot remember what it felt like to experience a father’s love. I was just three years old then.

“Now I’ve turned 18, and I want nothing more than a fair and just judgment for my father, and for him to be released from prison so that our family can be together once again,” she told FMT on the sidelines of the recent Abolish Death Penalty forum.

Her mother, Gunalakshmi, 48, and siblings Nirmal Raj, 20; Suria Raj, 17; and Shiva Sangari, 16, were also present at the forum.

Gunalakshmi with Deputy Family, Women and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh.

They pleaded for the resolution of their father’s case, which has been heard by a total of 19 judges since 2004.

“He has been on death row for 15 years over the murder of a man. But the man is still alive.

“Four people were arrested, but my father was the only one punished. The others were released,” Agilandeswari said, adding that her family was at its wit’s end.

She said they had gone to the Federal Court but that the apex court rejected their appeal. They have also given documents to MPs, but are no closer to a solution.

“I hope that my father will be freed as soon as possible as he has done no wrong.

“The man is still alive but we have not been given a chance to prove my father’s innocence. We do not know what to do. Please help us save my father,” she said during the forum.

Lawyer Abdul Rashid Ismail, who was one of the panellists at the forum, said he was aware of the case.

He said the problem was that the country’s criminal justice system does not allow the opening of a new case, even when there is proof of miscarriage of justice.

“The system places a high standard if we seek to reopen a case,” he said. “The standards are way too high.

“We see the injustice, but the system itself (has high standards). It is hard to say. We are still looking at what should be done,” he added.

Mainthan’s story is told in “Menunggu Masa”, a documentary produced by lawyers Sherrie Razak and Seira Sacha Abu Bakar.