Debt collector charged with drug trafficking spared gallows on appeal

The Court of Appeal was told the prosecution has accepted a representation after a High Court verdict two years ago.

PUTRAJAYA: A debt collector was spared the gallows today for trafficking in methamphetamine five years ago and was sentenced to 16 years’ jail and ordered to be whipped 20 times for possession instead.

Lawyer M Athimulan, who appeared for Keow Sze Tze, told a three-member Court of Appeal bench the prosecution had accepted a representation after a High Court verdict.

Deputy public prosecutor K Mangai confirmed the acceptance of the representation.

Following this, the bench, chaired by Kamaludin Md Said, reduced the trafficking charge to possession, which carries a minimum jail term of five years and a maximum of 30 years.

Keow was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment and ordered to be given 10 strokes of the rotan on each of the two counts.

The court ordered the jail terms to run concurrently, meaning he will serve 16 years and be given 20 strokes of the rotan.

He was found with 512.2gm and 474gm of methamphetamine at Jalan Impian Ria in Taman Impian Ria, Machang Bubok, on June 19, 2015.

Two years ago, High Court judge Abdul Wahab Mohamed sentenced him to death for trafficking.

Wahab had said the defence had failed to raise a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case and Keow’s evidence was a mere denial.

Today, Athimulan also withdrew Keow’s appeal against conviction and sentence by the High Court on four counts of possessing firearms and bullets.

Keow was accused of possessing a Cougar 8000 FT pistol and 12 9mm RA1 10 Luger bullets.

He was also charged with possessing a Pietro Beretta Gardone VT pistol, 32 S&B 9X9 12 bullets and 15 S&B 40 S&W bullets.

The offences were committed at Jalan Impian Ria, Taman Impian Ria, Machang Bubok on June 19, 2015.

For the four offences, Wahab had sentenced Keow to a total of 16 years in jail and ordered him to be given 12 strokes of the rotan.

Following today’s Court of Appeal decision, Keow, who has been in prison since 2015, will be serving 16 years for all the offences.

However, the total number of strokes of the rotan imposed by the court is 32, but he is likely to be whipped 24 times.

The Criminal Procedure Code states that no person found guilty could be given more than 24 strokes of the rotan.