ucanews.com reporterUpdated: May 24, 2019 09:36 AM GMT
A 2016 file image of an auxiliary police officer outside the Supreme Court in Singapore which includes the courtroom of the Court of Appeal which granted Malaysian P. Pannir Selvam’s application to stay his execution. (Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP)
Malaysia has welcomed a Singapore court halting the scheduled May 24 execution of P. Pannir Selvam, who was in 2014 arrested for possession of just under 52 grams of heroin.
He had been stopped and searched after crossing into Singapore by road from Malaysia.
Malaysian Law Minister Liew Vui Keong May 23 welcomed the stay of execution granted by Singapore’s Court of Appeal.
Courts in Singapore are required to hand down ‘automatic’ death sentences for serious drug offences.
Liew said he was notified on May 21 by the family of the convicted man, through lawyers, of the impending hanging.
"I took the liberty to liaise with our counterparts in Singapore with the blessing of our Foreign Office," Liew said in his statement.
He noted that the stay of execution was just a temporary reprieve for Pannir Selvam and thanked a human rights group called Lawyers for Liberty for their persistence in opposing imposition of the death penalty in this case.
There remained much work to be done and tougher days ahead, Liew said when expressing appreciation for the efforts of all "stakeholders".
"Let's hope and pray that Pannir will be successful in his next court hearing in Singapore," he added.
He was convicted on June 27, 2017 by the Singapore High Court for trafficking in heroin.
Selvam consistently pleaded his innocence and he argued that he was denied due process to challenge rejection of a clemency bid.
His sister, Sangkari Pranthaman, on May 21 appealed to the Malaysian government to make representations to Singapore.
She said family members were stunned last week when they received a notice of execution and a letter refusing clemency with the documents arriving together and bearing the same date.
The convicted man's father, Pranthaman Rajoo, told Malaysian media he was overjoyed with the reprieve for his son and was praying hard that it would not be short-lived.
Lawyers for Liberty adviser N. Surendran maintained that there had been irregularities in the legal process in Singapore in relation to Selvam.
He alleged that official handling of the original clemency petition to Singapore's President was "tainted with illegality".
Singapore lawyers Too Xing Ji and Lee Ji En raised concern that Selvam intended to personally continue to argue for clemency when he deserved legal representation.
The two men offered assistance to make further representations on the death row prisoner's behalf.