PETALING JAYA: It cost the government about RM10.5 million over the last five years to appoint court-assigned lawyers to represent accused persons facing offences involving the death penalty, Azalina Othman Said told the Dewan Rakyat.
The law and institutional reform minister said the scheme, which is managed via the office of the chief registrar of the Federal Court, saw approximately RM2.5 million spent in 2018, RM2.9 million in 2019, RM1.7 million in 2020, RM1.4 million in 2021, and RM2.05 million last year.
The minister was responding to a question by M Kula Segaran (PH-Ipoh Barat) in Parliament.
Under the scheme, the court assigns counsel for all accused persons – including foreigners – facing capital offence charges but who are unable to afford a lawyer on their own.
In a circular issued by Federal Court chief registrar Hasbi Hasan, it was stated that the fee payable to lawyers conducting trials nationwide had been raised from RM6,000 to RM9,000 effective December last year.
Lawyers handling appeals in the Court of Appeal will be paid RM6,000 (up from RM3,000) while those appearing in the Federal Court will earn RM7,000 (previously RM3,500).
Lawyers must have at least seven years’ experience and must have handled a minimum of five death penalty cases to qualify.
They must be vetted by their respective state bar committees before their names are sent to the chief registrar’s office.