Provide guidelines to judges for sentencing, urges lawyer

A hostel warden was sentenced to 228 years in jail and 42 strokes of the rotan by the Kangar Sessions Court after he pleaded guilty to 25 counts of sodomy and gross indecency.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer wants judges to be given guidelines on sentencing in view of the present wide disparity in imposing punishments.

A Srimurugan said such discrepancies may occur due to the lack of formal training for judges.

“It is high time the judiciary produced a guidebook to assist judges. They must consider the interests of the public and the accused before imposing a jail term and whipping,” he told FMT.

He said a long jail term would be illogical while whipping beyond 24 times is against the law.

The lawyer was responding to a report that a hostel warden was sentenced to 228 years’ in jail and 42 strokes of the rotan by the Sessions Court on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to 25 counts of sodomy and gross indecency against five tahfiz school students in Kangar.

Sessions Court Judge Ainul Shahrin Mohamad handed down the sentence on Nawawi Anuar, 28.

A Srimurugan.

The court ordered that the sentences for 20 of the charges run consecutively and six others to run concurrently.

Deputy public prosecutor Noshuhada Mohd Yatim represented the state while Mohd Hapiz Rajali appeared for Nawawi.

Srimurugan said in 2008, a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Suryadi Halim Omar requested trial judges to use established legal principles and logic before sentencing accused persons.

In the case of Tuan Mat Tuan Lonik v Public Prosecutor, the appellant was sentenced to 75 years’ jail and 50 strokes of the rotan by the trial judge after he pleaded guilty to five rape charges.

When the appeal came before the Court of Appeal, the accused was 48 years old.

Suryadi, who wrote the judgement, said if the accused were to serve the full 75 years, he would be 123 years of age when released.

“Knowing fully well that he will never serve the full term is not only bizarre but strains the intelligence of the court.

“Any illogical sentence may attract unnecessary scrutiny and negative comments from the public on how we awkwardly conduct ourselves,” he had said.

Suryadi said public opinion is like the sword of Damocles that hovers over the head of any trial judge, constantly intimidating the court to surrender to the unreasonable demands of the public.

Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali.

In varying the sentence, the appellate court sentenced Tuan Mat to serve only 30 years in jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the rotan, as provided under the law.

Meanwhile, another lawyer, Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, said the counsel and deputy public prosecutors must assist the trial judges by giving quality submissions before the sentence is meted out.

“Any illogical or long jail sentence will be seen as imposing a natural life imprisonment term with the accused dying in prison,” he said.

In the Kangar case, the accused will spend 152 years in jail even after one-third remission for the total imprisonment term.

“Given that he is now 28 years of age, he will only be released when he is 180.”

Rafique hoped a High Court judge in the nearest jurisdiction would use his or her revisionary powers to impose a more appropriate sentence.