PUTRAJAYA: Two businessmen today escaped the gallows over a charge of manufacturing 20kg of Nimetazepam drugs at a shoplot in Seremban 10 years ago.
Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who led a three-member Federal Court bench, said they agreed with the defence that the prosecution could not ignore the element of possession in such cases.
“There was a misdirection by the trial judge and the Court of Appeal,” said Tengku Maimun who allowed the appeals by Chan Wei Loon and Lai Kar Meng.
Sitting with Tengku Maimun were Zaleha Yusof and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.
Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who represented Lai, said he had urged the bench to provide a written judgment for the guidance of the trial courts.
“This is quite a landmark ruling as it concerns all manufacturing cases and effectively overrules the Court of Appeal judgments in the earlier cases of Lee Boon Siah and Keong Gim Chye which were later affirmed by the Federal Court.
”Today’s ruling, therefore, applies to a lot of cases relating to manufacturing of drugs,” he told FMT.
The lawyer, who is also Bukit Gelugor MP, in his submission said the courts must look at the facts and circumstances of all cases first to see if possession was relevant and needed to be proved.
“So, possession can be relevant in some manufacturing cases while not in others,” he added.
However, he said this had been an exception for manufacturing cases as decided by the Court of Appeal in Lee and Keong’s cases.
As a result, he said, the prosecution had taken the position that possession – which includes custody, control and knowledge – need not be proved .
The High Court in Seremban sentenced Chan and Lai to death in 2015 and their convictions were affirmed by the Court of Appeal in 2018.
They allegedly committed the offence at Oakland Commercial Centre 11 on Oct 23, 2010 with the intention to traffic in the drugs later.
Lai was also represented by Harshaan Zamani while Chan was represented by Kee Wai Loon. Deputy Public Prosecutors Dusuki Mokhtar and Nahra Dollah appeared for the prosecution.
The same bench also substituted the death sentence on Chinese national Luo Dan for trafficking in 4.4kg of methamphetamine to possession.
She was sentenced to 15 years jail from the date of arrest.
Luo, 25, was in possession of the drugs at the Senai International Airport on Oct 20, 2014.
Lawyers Simon Murali and Kok Yuen Lin represented Luo while deputy public prosecutors Ku Hayati Ku Haron and Nur Farhana Khalid appeared for the prosecution.