PUTRAJAYA, 5 Aug 2009: The Federal Court today upheld the death sentence imposed on a part-time pirate taxi driver for trafficking 937.8g of cannabis nine years ago.
A three-person bench presided by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, and Federal Court Judge Datuk Hashim Yusoff dismissed M Kathavarayan’s final appeal to quash his conviction and death sentence.
Kathavarayan, now 60, was convicted and sent to the gallows by the Alor Star High Court on 29 Oct 2003 after he was found guilty of trafficking the drugs on Jalan Muktamar, Taman Sultan Abdul Halim, Alor Setar, on 31 May 2000.
The Court of Appeal had on 12 March 2008 dismissed his appeal to overturn the High Court decision.
Justice Malanjum, in his judgement, said the court agreed with the High Court’s finding that the prosecution had proved the physical aspect of the possession based on the evidence that Kathavarayan was alone in the car and the plastic bag was placed under the driver’s seat, and that he was also the owner of the vehicle.
“The High Court judge made a clear factual finding that the appellant was in physical care and custody of the yellow bag containing the drugs,” said Justice Malanjum.
He said on the issue of trafficking, the High Court judge had relied on Section 37 of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which was a presumption provision for trafficking in drugs when a person was found to be in possession of 200g or more of cannabis.
“In this case, the appellant was factually found to be in possession of 937.8g [of cannabis] when he was apprehended by the police. He had custody and control of the yellow plastic bag containing the drugs and he knew about it,” he said.
Kathavarayan was represented by counsel Karpal Singh and Sangeet Kaur Deo, while Deputy Public Prosecutor Eddie Yeo appeared for the prosecution. — Bernama