31 year-old Malaysian national Kho Jabing was convicted of a heinous murder in 2010 after he viciously attacked and killed a Chinese construction worker with a tree branch in a botched robbery attempt in 2008.
Kho and a co-defendant had originally been sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2010, but a review of Singapore’s death penalty laws saw him resentenced to life imprisonment, which the prosecution appealed. In January this year, the High Court arrived at a narrow 3-2 decision to resentence Kho to death again.
Kho’s lawyers turned to his last mode of appeal – a plea for clemency from President Tony Tan Yam Keng. However, the President has turned down his appeal on the advice of the Cabinet.
Volunteer groups against the use of the death penalty have now taken to social media and the internet to pressure the Singapore courts to halt the imminent execution of the Malaysian murderer.
Josef Benedict, Campaigns Director for South East Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International, said in his statement: “We urge the President of Singapore to immediately halt Kho Jabing’s execution and reconsider the decision to reject his clemency application. The decision to take his life is based on disputed facts and even the country’s Apex Court was divided on the life and death decision in his case. With no legal avenues left, clemency is the only way to safeguard Kho Jabing’s life.”
“The holes in the evidence available in Kho Jabing’s case, and the disagreement between the judges, raise questions that go beyond his case. These deal with the impact of the legal reforms of Singapore’s mandatory laws, particularly the use of Singapore’s power to grant clemency. A man could now be killed after such a disputed life and death decision. International safeguards guarantee in all cases the right for anyone sentenced to death to appeal against the death sentence, but Kho Jabing is left without any legal avenues. The President of Singapore must reconsider his earlier rejection of clemency for Kho Jabing and stop this execution immediately.”
“The lack of consensus over Kho Jabing’s sentence is just another indication of why the death penalty must end. We are calling on the Singaporean authorities to immediately re-impose an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty for good,” said Benedict.
The latest execution carried out in Singapore took place on 17 April 2015 for a case of intentional murder, an offence which still carries the mandatory death penalty.
According to Amnesty International, “As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; three more countries – Fiji, Madagascar, and Suriname – have abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2015. One more US state, Nebraska, has also become abolitionist and the Governor of Pennsylvania established an official moratorium on executions earlier this year.
“Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.”