Death row convict files stay of execution application

PUTRAJAYA: An Iranian, who is facing the death penalty, filed an application for a stay of execution in the Federal Court pending an amendment to Section 39B of Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, to include provisions on sentences other than the death sentence.

Hamidreza Farahmand Hassan, who was charged with two other Iranians, was convicted on a charge under Section 39B for drug trafficking and sentenced to death on May 15, 2014, by the Shah Alam High Court.

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who represents Hamidreza, said he had posed a question in Parliament on whether the government is proposing to introduce a "moratorium" for cases under Section 39B, on Aug 1.

He said the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, in her reply, said a study was presented to the Cabinet on March 1 and agreed to make amendments to the section by including provisions to allow the courts to use discretion to impose a sentence other than death.

Hamidreza, in his application, said the government has not stated clearly on whether the amendments will be enforced retrospectively in nature.

He said he would be prejudiced if his execution takes place before the amendment is approved by Parliament.

He said there are special circumstances to justify the stay of the death penalty on him.

Ram Karpal told the media that he intends to raise questions on whether or not it would be in retrospective in nature in the coming Parliament sessions, which will begin on Oct 23.

"This application is the first of its kind in asking the court for a stay of execution," said Ramkarpal.

"We are of the view that the judicial avenues had been exhausted. In light of this latest development, we believe judicial relief is warranted in the circumstances, in this case, a stay of execution of death penalty," he said.