Lawyers: Absurd to jail man 1,050 years for rape

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A senior lawyer has described as “ridiculous” a 1,050-year jail term imposed on a man for raping his 12-year-old stepdaughter as it amounted to a natural life imprisonment.

N Sivananthan said he had never come across such a long custodial sentence as the offender would not live to complete the jail term.

“The judge has ignored the sentencing principle on the accused charged with multiple counts of the same offence. It is ridiculous as that amounts to imposing a natural life jail term,” he told FMT.

Sivananthan said this was a fit and proper case for a High Court judge to immediately review the matter to prevent miscarriage of justice.

On Wednesday, a Klang Sessions Court judge handed the jail term and 24 strokes of the rotan to the unemployed man for sexually assaulting the minor 105 times over two years.

M Kunasundary ordered the accused to serve 10 years in jail and two strokes of the rotan on each charge, with the sentence to run consecutively from the date of his arrest on Jan 20.

The man, who was unrepresented, committed the offence at a house in Sungai Way, Petaling, Selangor, from Jan 5, 2018, to Feb 24, 2020.

Section 376B of the Penal Code provides for a jail term of not less than 10 years and not exceeding 30 years, and whipping.

Lawyer V Vemal Arasan said the judge should have allowed the accused time to engage counsel from the National Legal Aid Foundation to mitigate his crime.

“A counsel would have enlightened the court on the sentencing principle and urged the court to have the jail term run concurrently.” he said.

Vemal said the aim of sentencing was to act as retribution and rehabilitation, not to condemn the offender.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said that in 2008, a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Suryadi Halim Omar had asked trial judges to use established legal principles and logic before sentencing accused persons.

In the case of Tuan Mat Tuan Lonik v Public Prosecutor, the appellant was sentenced to 75 years’ jail and 50 strokes of the rotan by the trial judge after he pleaded guilty to five rape charges.

When the appeal came before the Court of Appeal, the accused was 48 years old.

Suryadi, who wrote the judgment, said if the accused were to serve the full 75 years, he would be 123 years old when released.

“Knowing fully well that he will never serve the full term is not only bizarre but strains the intelligence of the court. Any illogical sentence may attract unnecessary scrutiny and negative comments from the public on how we awkwardly conduct ourselves,” he had said.

In varying the sentence, the appellate court sentenced Tuan Mat to serve only 30 years in jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the rotan, as provided for under the law.

Rafique said he would have expected the two deputy public prosecutors who appeared in the case to assist the judge on the law before the sentence was handed down on the accused.

He said Brunei Chief Justice Steven Chong had said in a judgment: “The prosecutor does not act for any particular person or party. His client is not the attorney-general or the government or even the victim. Instead, his client is the society.”

Rafique said the role of the prosecutor, therefore, excluded the notion of winning or losing but was ingrained with a sense of dignity and integrity. – FMT