Lawyers ask for review of dog-hanging case

A video screenshot of Muhammad Yoges Balaraman untying the dog after being admonished.

PETALING JAYA: Two lawyers have urged the High Court to review the case of a man who was fined RM40,000 for hanging his dog from a tree, saying a miscarriage of justice may have taken place if a plea of guilt is taken from someone suspected to be of unsound mind.

They added that it is normal practice for a trial judge to determine the mental health of the accused before recording a plea of guilt.

Lawyer Baljit Sidhu said a High Court could recall the case under Sections 31 and 35 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and Sections 323 and 325 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

“This is an appropriate case for immediate review in the interest of justice as the media reported that the accused may suffer from mental health problems before he was charged in court this week,” he added.

Muhammad Yoges Balaraman, 35, was fined RM40,000 in lieu of 12 months’ jail after he was videoed hanging his dog from a tree in Banting earlier this month.

He was charged with causing unnecessary pain or suffering to his dog under Section 29(1)(e) of the Animal Welfare Act 2015 which provides for a maximum fine of RM100,000 or up to three years’ jail.

He is said to be serving the jail term as he cannot pay the fine.

On May 7, Kuala Langat police chief Supt Azizan Tukiman said checks had revealed that Yoges, who is unemployed and lives with his family, had been receiving treatment at Banting Hospital for the past three years.

Baljit said the court should have sent him for a psychiatric evaluation at a government hospital.

Lawyer A Srimurugan meanwhile said the magistrate should have facilitated the service of a counsel for Yoges from the National Legal Aid Foundation.

He, too, said case laws as well as Section 342 of the CPC state that an accused must be sent to a government hospital for evaluation if the trial judge finds something amiss.

“The person should be in hospital for a month,” he added. “It is for the doctor to prepare a report to be submitted to the court to say whether the accused is fit to stand trial.”

If found to be mentally unsound, he said, health authorities would place the accused in a mental health home for treatment.

He also warned that Yoges could pose a danger to himself and other inmates if it was true he was in prison.

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