PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today affirmed the death sentence imposed by a High Court on two Iranians and a local businessman for processing 48.6kg of methamphetamine at a light industrial area in Penang for the purpose of trafficking.
Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail, who led a three-member bench, said this was an exceptional case that warranted the death penalty to be maintained.
It is believed to be the first case of the appellate court declining to use its discretion to impose the jail term since the law was amended last year.
Deputy public prosecutor Khushairy Ibrahim proposed that the capital punishment meted out on J Balakrishnan, Abbasi Younes and Seyedohsen Namazikivaj in December 2019 should not be disturbed.
“We submit this is the rarest of the rare cases as it involves the manufacture of huge amounts of drugs which would have caused irreparable damage to the public,” he said.
Lawyers appearing for the trio urged the court to impose a jail term, as the law provided for a maximum of 30 years.
Earlier, Justice Azmi Ariffin, who read the broad grounds of the ruling to dismiss the men’s appeal, said there was no evidence in the appeal records to suggest that the trial judge was not present when the exhibits were marked.
The contention by the defence was that a court official conducted the exercise, which is against criminal procedure.
“There is overwhelming evidence for the trial judge to conclude the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt,” Azmi said.
The other bench member was Justice Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim.
The men committed the offence on Aug 20, 2015, about 11pm at the Taman Sri Rambai light industrial area in Seberang Perai Tengah.
Part-time cleaner, B Lacheme Devi, who was employed by Balakrishnan and jointly charged, had earlier been acquitted by the High Court.
The facts of the case revealed that police, after conducting surveillance on the premises for a while, conducted a raid and found chemicals and drug-making paraphernalia. They then arrested the four suspects.
An analysis by a chemist concluded that the building was used to process methamphetamine or shabu.
Lawyers Kitson Foong and Chew Jee San appeared for the Iranians while Ashok Athimulan represented Balakrishnan.