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HomeOther CountriesMalaysiaTime to review natural life jail term, say lawyers - Free Malaysia...

Time to review natural life jail term, say lawyers – Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A senior criminal lawyer has called for the government to review the natural life imprisonment term, saying the punishment is akin to imposing a death sentence.
Salim Bashir said the incarceration of a convicted person until he dies takes a heavy toll on his emotional and mental health.
He said, as a result, some of his clients have even expressed a preference for the death penalty instead of languishing behind prison walls indefinitely.
Salim, a former president of the Malaysian Bar, said this after a canopy supplier recently won his freedom for alleged trafficking in firearms.
The Court of Appeal on Dec 3 allowed T Jegan’s appeal after he had served seven years in jail.
Delivering the court’s verdict, panel chairman Justice Kamaludin Said described Jegan as “the luckiest man” for getting his freedom back.
He was charged with trafficking three pistols and a revolver in front of a house in Jalan Bukit Mewah in Kajang on Dec 18, 2015.
Salim said new law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said should consider reviewing the propriety of the natural life imprisonment term as she mulls the abolishment of the death penalty.
He said offenders under the Firearms Act (Increased Penalty) should be limited to a maximum of 30 years in jail instead of being incarcerated for their natural life.
Lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali said the liberty of the accused will be taken away if the person is held in custody until he dies.
Taking into account a High Court judgment that since the life expectancy of Malaysian men was 70 and a jail term beyond that age would be undesirable, Jegan, 36, would have been unproductive for 34 years had his High Court conviction been maintained.
“Perhaps, Parliament could give the court the discretion to impose either the death penalty or a jail term of up to 30 years as smuggling of firearms is quite a serious offence,” he added.
Rafique said such offenders were also entitled to a pardon from the head of state after serving a portion of their jail sentence.
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