Malaysian prisoner Pannir Selvam Pranthaman had been scheduled to hang this morning in Singapore, having been found guilty of drug trafficking into the city state, and meted out the most severe punishment despite having cooperated with authorities.
However, in a last-ditch attempt to save his life via the Singapore Court of Appeal, Pannir was granted a stay of execution, allowing him to challenge the clemency process. He was represented by Too Xing Ji and Lee Ji En.
Last week, a letter from Singapore’s president had stated that his appeal for clemency was not granted, and notifying him of his execution date, the following Friday. However, a letter sent to his family had stated the same information, and had been dated a day earlier.
A Chief Justice, along with two Judges of Appeal, heard the case, and agreed that Pannir should be granted a “reasonable opportunity to take advice on whether he can mount a successful challenge” against his charges.
“In a way which matter has transpired, he was notified of both the rejection of his clemency petition and scheduled date of the execution sentence just one week in advance.”
The judges also took into consideration that Too only came into the picture as Pannir’s lawyer yesterday.
“To be fair to him, we could not expect him to be in a position to mount a fully developed argument. In the circumstances, we think that the execution should be stayed until further order.
“The applicant has two weeks to file his intended application together with any supporting evidence. The prosecution has a period of two weeks to respond. Both parties have to file skeleton submission within one week of the prosecution’s response and the matters to refix for hearing before us in short notice,” said an Appeal Judge.
The Singapore Court of Appeal allowed the stay of execution for Pannir Selvam in order to give him time to mount a challenge againt the refusal of clemency. This was unprecedented.
Earlier, Pannir had filed… https://t.co/cmCdQSspx3
— Lawyers for Liberty (@lawyers4liberty) May 23, 2019
Malaysian lawmaker, lawyer, activist, and executive director of group Lawyers for Liberty, Latheefa Koya, was in court to hear the new verdict. She was pleased with the outcome, later tweeting her thoughts on the matter.
Yday's unexpected stay saved Pannir Selvam fr d gallows this morn. We want to record our gratitude to @Liew_Vui_Keong for his tireless efforts over d last wk to save Pannir's life. Also thanks for d support of @saifuddinabd & M'sian embassy officials in Spore
— Latheefa Koya (@LatheefaKoya) May 24, 2019
On September 3, 2014, Pannir was found to be in possession of 51.84 grams of diamorphine, aka heroin, at the Woodlands Checkpoint between Singapore and Malaysia. He was convicted despite pleading innocent on June 27, 2017.
His defendants argued that there was cause to believe that Pannir was merely duped into carrying a package by a man named “Anand,” and that the defendant gave authorities thorough information on the alleged mastermind.
Singapore, a country known for its harsh anti-drug trafficking laws, had earlier denied Pannir a certificate of assistance that would have commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.