Lawyer backs bail for boys charged with murder of ex-Cradle CEO

Samirah Muzaffar covers her face with a scarf at the Magistrate’s Court in Petaling Jaya. She and two teenagers have been charged with the murder of Nazrin Hassan.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has called for the two boys charged with the murder of former Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd CEO Nazrin Hassan to be released on bail so that their education will not be interrupted.

Baljit Sidhu said a magistrate could not offer bail as the officer has no jurisdiction over crimes that carry the death penalty.

Section 388 of the Criminal Procedure Code, however, allows an accused person to apply to the High Court for bail for a non-bailable offence like murder.

“A child, woman, sick or infirm person accused of a crime that carries the capital punishment can make an application to be out on bail pending the outcome of the trial,” Baljit told FMT.

The teenagers, aged 15 and 17, were charged with Nazrin’s murder yesterday along with his widow, Samirah Muzaffar, and Eka Wahyu Lestari who is still at large.

They were jointly charged with murdering Nazrin at his home in Mutiara Damansara last June and held in custody as remand prisoners.

Baljit said there was a legal precedent for the boys to apply for bail, giving the example of former lawyer Balwant Singh who was charged with the murder of a dispatch rider in 2002. Balwant was allowed bail as he was said to be infirm due to old age.

“The High Court then imposed conditions in granting the bail,” he added.

He said the two boys would be placed at Kajang Prison but held separately from adult inmates.

“They can continue with their education, with designated teachers assigned by the authorities to visit them under the prison scheme.”

Baljit said this was important as under normal circumstances, the trial could take anywhere between two and five years to conclude.

“In our criminal justice system, an accused is presumed to be innocent until found guilty by a court of law.

“Their time in prison will have been unproductive if they are finally acquitted,” he said.

He also suggested that the boys be placed under a guardian, with strict bail conditions like staying indoors except to attend school, and reporting to the nearest police station once a week.

Baljit, who is also a member of the Bar Council criminal law committee, urged the government to review the Child Act 2001 to remedy what he said were a number of weaknesses in the law.

“Those who expose the identity of children charged with crimes must be severely punished with jail or a hefty fine,” he said.