PUTRAJAYA: A former college student who has been on death row for almost five years for syabu trafficking has filed a review in the Federal Court for alleged miscarriage of justice.
V Sathya, 30, will be represented by 12 lawyers, led by former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram and senior counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, because of the gravity of the issue on pending trials and appeals on trafficking cases that come with the death penalty.
A review proceeding has been scheduled at the Palace of Justice for tomorrow and lawyers practising criminal law will be waiting with bated breath for its outcome.
Sathya lost his final appeal against his conviction and sentence on two counts of trafficking on Feb 8 and filed the review application two weeks later under Rule 137 of the Federal Court Rules 1995.
This provision enables the apex court to review its own previous decisions, judgments or orders on its merits to prevent injustice or abuse of the process of the court.
He wants the conviction to be set aside, and for a fresh panel to make an appropriate order, or an acquittal, or call for a rehearing.
His complaint is that a three-member Federal Court panel did not follow precedents.
Sri Ram said there were passages in the judgment of the Federal Court that sought to depart from the 2019 ruling in Alma Nudo Atenza v Public Prosecutor on the use of double presumptions.
He said that was not the case argued by the prosecution.
“But the court proceeded to find guilt on the basis of double presumption without giving the accused an opportunity to address the point.
“This is a breach of the rules of natural justice,” he told FMT.
The law does not allow the court or the prosecution to invoke double presumption against accused persons in drug trafficking cases because a nine-member bench of the Federal Court held it to be unconstitutional and oppressive in 2019.
It means the presumption of deemed possession and presumed trafficking could not be relied upon.
During the review proceeding, the lawyers are also expected to raise the issue of whether the trial court has a duty to inform accused persons to enter defence based on actual or presumed trafficking.
Sathya, then a student in risk management at a private college in Kuala Lumpur, and his girlfriend were jointly charged with trafficking 1.8kg and 2.2kg of methamphetamine or syabu, concealed in two luggages.
The offences were committed at the then low-cost carrier terminal near KLIA on Sept 26, 2013.
The girlfriend was acquitted at the close of the defence’s case while Sathya was convicted and sentenced to death on Nov 27, 2017. The Court of Appeal also dismissed his appeal.
Deputy public prosecutor Parvin Hameedah Natchiar, who affirmed an affidavit to oppose Sathya’s review application, said the bench early this year considered the appeal and had come to the right decision in accordance with the law.
“There is no miscarriage of justice. In any event, the review did not fall under the category of limited grounds and exceptional circumstances,” she said.