Convict's family distraught over last-minute notice of execution

PETALING JAYA: Amnesty International Malaysia has come out strongly against what it calls the Prisons Department’s practice of “secretive” executions, in the latest case informing a family of the execution of their son at the last minute. 

Its executive director Shamini Darshni said that the family of convict P. Gunasegar (pic), 35, was only informed on Wednesday that they should visit him for the last time as he would be executed "soon".

In the letter by the Taiping Prison’s Department, the family was also advised to discuss arrangements to claim Gunasegar’s body for his funeral.

"The mother, Nagarani Sandasamy had visited Gunasegar last week, and both were unaware that the 34-year-old was scheduled to hang just a week later,” Shamini said.

She added though no date was given, convicts were usually executed on Fridays after morning prayers.

She told The Star that it was common for families not to be given a date, calling the practice "heartless".

Gunasegar was on death row for his role in the murder of B. Venukumar, then 24, on April 4, 2005.

Amnesty International stated its concern on Malaysia’s practice of “secretive” executions, saying transparency on the use of the death penalty was an essential safeguard in such cases, as it allowed for greater scrutiny and meaningful debate on the issue.

Shamini called on the authorities to stop of the execution and commute the death sentence to life imprisonment, saying that executing Gunasegar would be an enormous step backwards on human rights for Malaysia.

As discussions on abolishing the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia continue, the Malaysian government must immediately put in place a moratorium on all executions as a first step towards full abolition of the death penalty.”

In court documents sighted by The Star, Gunasegar  was charged, together with J. Ramesh and J. Sasivarnam, with murdering Venukumar at a playground in Taman Ria Raya, Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Though the trio claimed during the trial that they had been attacked by a group, which included Venukumar and only defended themselves, the High Court found them guilty in 2011.

The decision was later affirmed by the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt or innocence of the individual, or the method used to carry out the execution.


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