The Singapore Court of Appeal has dismissed the plea by Malaysian Kho Jabing, who has been convicted of murder, to postpone his death sentence tomorrow.
According to Channel News Asia, Kho challenged the involvement of the Court of Appeal judge Andrew Phang, who presided over two of his appeals in 2010 and 2013, in which Kho was sentenced to death.
Kho’s lawyer Gino Singh reportedly argued that Justice Phang’s involvement in the 2013 appeal essentially meant that he was deliberating over his own 2010 decision, which raised the possibility of bias.
The challenge today was heard by a five-member bench, including Justice Phang.
However, Justice Phang responded to the claims of Kho’s lawyers by explaining that the 2010 appeal and the 2013 appeals were different.
The 2010 appeal concerned Kho’s murder conviction, the judge reportedly said, at a time when the punishment is the mandatory death penalty.
On the second appeal, the law had been changed Kho had been re-sentenced to life imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane. The court considered Kho’s culpability in the murder, and ultimately decided that he was culpable enough to be sentenced to death again.
Separately, representatives from three human rights and anti-death penalty groups handed a letter of appeal to the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur urging the republic's President, Tony Tan, to grant clemency to Kho.
'Kho's case tumultuous and traumatic'
In their letter, Amnesty International-Malaysia, the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and Suaram said the groups were not condoning the crime nor seeking to erase the hurt caused to the victim's family.
"Yet the course of Kho’s case has been tumultuous and traumatic. This has taken a horrific toll not just on Kho, but his family (as well)," they added.
It also noted how certain judges, during the course of the legal proceedings, disagreed with the death penalty being imposed as there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that Kho exhibited a "blatant disregard for human life".
Speaking to reporters later, Amnesty International-Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni said if Singapore proceeded with the execution, it would ignite international condemnation.
According to the case, Kho and a friend, Galing anak Kujat, tried to rob two Chinese national construction workers on Feb 17, 2008.
At some point, Kho was said to have picked up a piece of wood from the ground and hit one of the workers on the head with it.
The victim succumbed to his injuries six days later.