Review conviction of disabled man for suicide attempt, urges lawyers’ group

PETALING JAYA: Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) is “perplexed” as to how a person with disability was sentenced to six months’ jail for attempting suicide late last year.

Sinar Harian yesterday reported that a disabled man who tried to hang himself with a nylon rope in Kuala Terengganu on Dec 23 was sentenced by a magistrate to six months in prison under Section 309 of the Penal Code for attempted suicide.

The report said the man had previously been ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment at the Permai Hospital in Tampoi, Johor.

LFL director Melissa Sasidaran urged the attorney-general to review the case and refer it to the High Court. She said she hoped to see the conviction and sentence quashed.

“The discretion to prosecute must be exercised properly and in accordance with the circumstances of the case,” Melissa said in a statement.

“We are perplexed as to how this case was prosecuted and tried when it is clear there is no public interest to be served.”

She said the accused, who was unrepresented at the hearing, was “clearly in dire need of assistance” and prosecuting him could “worsen his situation”.

Melissa also said the prosecution went against the government’s plan to decriminalise attempted suicide, currently being studied by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

She also noted that the prosecution was conducted by a senior police officer instead of a deputy public prosecutor, and called for the practice of prosecution conducted by senior police officers to be reviewed.