After abolishment of death penalty, it’s time to seek compensation from convicted murderers

IN welcoming the Dewan Rakyat’s passing of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill (AMDPB) 2023 yesterday (April 3), the Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) now calls on the public prosecutor to diligently apply for compensation from the convicted in criminal trials for victims of crime, including family members of murder victims.

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) said a perusal of reported cases shows that the public prosecutor seldom applies for compensation for victims, including the family of murder victims.

“In some cases, they just apply for prosecution cost,” MADPET co-founder Charles Hector pointed out in his latest blog. “The government is considering this but it must be pointed out that it is already provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code.”

Charles Hector

Section 426 states that the public prosecutor can apply for an order against the convicted accused for payment by him of a sum to be fixed by the court as compensation.

Moreover, the same section also states that the order for payment shall not prejudice any right to a civil remedy for the recovery of any property or damages beyond the amount of compensation paid under the order.

“This means that victims of murder or other crimes can still commence a civil court action to claim damages,” explained Hector who is also a human rights lawyer.

“Altantuya Sharibu’s family did just that with the court finding that not just convicted murderers Sirul (Azhar Umar) and Azilah (Hadri) but also political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda liable to their claim of unlawful killing of the deceased (Altantuya).”

In the legal suit, the government was vicariously liable as Sirul and Azilah were police officers. The accused were ordered to pay cost and RM5 mil in general, aggravated and exemplary damages to the deceased’s family, among others.

In a related development, MADPET also called on the Dewan Negara “to speedily pass the AMDPB 2023 and the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Bill 2023 so that it can be put in force as soon as possible.

The latter bill will enable the Federal Court to review the death sentence and life imprisonment imposed on a convicted person following the abolition of mandatory death penalty.

This will mean that the about 840 of the 1,320 prisoners on death row who have completed all appeals will have their death sentence reviewed by the Federal Court. Likewise, those who are currently serving life sentence will now be subject to “imprisonment for a term of not less than 30 years but not exceeding 40 years”. – April 4, 2023


Main pic credit: RojakDaily

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