PUTRAJAYA: A Chinese national today escaped the gallows for trafficking 1.2kg of methamphetamine after being found guilty of a reduced charge of drug possession.
Yan Lanhua, 39, was instead given a 20-year jail term by the Federal Court, out of a maximum of 30 years.
A three-member bench chaired by Mohd Zawawi Salleh said it agreed with the submission put forth by counsel Gopal Sri Ram that Yan was not given a fair trial when the prosecution conducted its case.
Zawawi was joined by judges Nallini Pathmanathan and Zaleha Yusof.
Sri Ram said the prosecution only served the statements of eight witnesses to Yan’s assigned counsel on the first and second days of trial in early July 2017.
“The trial commenced immediately,” he said, adding that under Section 402B of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), statements must be given to the accused at least 14 days before the start of trial.
“On these grounds alone, there was a mistrial and the conviction should be quashed,” he added.
Sri Ram also said the proceedings were not interpreted to Yan, a foreigner who was not conversant in Malay, despite the presence of an interpreter.
“The prosecution offered to have the witness statements read, but the trial judge bypassed the procedure and proceeded with cross-examination,” he said, adding that this was another clear violation of Section 270 of the CPC.
Lawyer A Srimurugan, who appeared with Sri Ram, said in mitigation that Yan was a divorced mother of three.
He also said Yan was a victim of human trafficking and a first-time offender.
He said she had been in prison since 2013 as bail is not allowed to those charged with trafficking, more so as she was a foreigner.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar asked for a deterrent sentence in the name of public interest and given the quantity of drugs found on her.
According to the facts of the case, Yan arrived from Shenzhen, China at what was then the low-cost carrier terminal at KLIA in Sepang on Nov 15, 2013, at about 4.15pm.
She was accosted by a customs official and her luggage scanned before being opened for inspection.
The drugs were concealed in three small pillows found among items of children’s clothing.
Yan, from Hubei province, was charged with trafficking and found guilty on Sept 28, 2017. The conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeal on Jan 2 last year.
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