PUTRAJAYA: Three men including two foreign nationals escaped the gallows after the Court of Appeal reduced their charge of trafficking in 9kg of methamphetamine to possession of the drugs.

K. Dinakaran, 43, Bangladeshi Asraful Alam, 28, and an Indian national Arivazhagan Murugesan, 50, were instead sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan each.

They were ordered to serve the sentences from Aug 13, 2016, the date of their arrest.

Court of Appeal’s three-member panel comprising Justices Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Datuk Azman Abdullah and Datuk S.M.Komathy Suppiah set aside the death sentence for drug trafficking imposed on the trio by the High Court after ruling that their conviction was not safe.

In delivering the court’s decision, Justice Hadhariah said the charge against the three men was defective as it was worded as trafficking by manufacturing the drug when it should have been a preparatory act to manufacture the drugs.

She said the High Court judge failed to give a direction to the accused persons at the end of the prosecution’s case whether there was actual or presumed possession for them to prepare their defences and that adverse inference should also be drawn on the prosecution for not calling or offering material witnesses to the defence.

Justice Hadhariah also said the court is exercising its discretion to reduce the charge to possession of the drugs.

Dinakaran, an odd job worker, Asraful, a former student and Arivazhagan, a labourer, subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge.

In 2019, the High Court found them guilty of trafficking in 9,179.34 grammes of methamphetamine at a house in Jalan 3, Ampang, Selangor at noon on Aug 13, 2016.

Their lawyer Afifuddin Ahmad Hafifi asked the court to impose a jail sentence of between 10 to 15 years but deputy public prosecutor Solehah Noratikah Ismail suggested a jail term of between 18 and 20 years, taking into account the weight of the drugs.-Bernama

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