Batumalai brothers hanged at dawn today

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The Batumalai brothers, 45-year-old Rames and 40-year-old Suthar, were hanged to death at dawn today.

Amnesty International Malaysia in a statement condemned the executions, which it said were carried out despite a pending clemency appeal to commute their death sentence delivered in February 2010 for a murder 12 years ago.

"It is simply cruel that the family of the prisoners were told to prepare for executions this Friday, only to find out, with less than 24 hours’ notice, that they were given wrong information about the date of the execution.

"With the clemency appeal still pending, the brothers were denied of their opportunity to have their case reconsidered and have their clemency applications heard," said Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni (photo).

"Their case is deeply troubling, with the death sentence imposed as the mandatory punishment for a conviction based on circumstantial evidence alone.

"They should have been granted the opportunity to have their applications heard and the executions should have been halted until the full and fair hearing of this application," Shamini said.

The mother of Rames and Suthar, Paravathy Arunasalam, had, through a lawyer on Feb 23, petitioned the Negeri Sembilan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, pleading for the ruler to commute their sentences or replace it with a life sentence (of 20 years).

The brothers' lawyer had also sent a petition to the deputy director of the Kajang prison, and both the petitions were acknowledged by the prison and the Negeri Sembilan state government.

Following the applications, their executions which were initially scheduled for Feb 24, were halted at the last hour and set again for March 17.

The family said they have yet to be informed of the outcome of the applications but were instead told that the brothers would be hanged at dawn today.

Sharmini, meanwhile, also noted that executions in Malaysia continue to be carried out in secretive and opaque conditions.

"Malaysia must stop backpedalling on human rights and start protecting them by halting all executions and moving to abolish the death penalty," she stressed.

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