Tuesday, November 19

Drug trafficking case deferred to enable SLA to verify Karpal’s ad-hoc admission as counsel

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KOTA KINABALU: The High Court here yesterday deferred the hearing of an ad-hoc application by Peninsular Malaysia-based senior lawyer Karpal Singh to act as counsel for a woman, who is jointly charged with another man, with trafficking in 7,537 grams of ketamine.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum postponed the hearing to a date to be fixed to enable the Sabah Law Association (SLA) to verify the guideline on ad-hoc admission for counsel involving capital punishment.

Karpal’s ad-hoc admission was earlier on moved by his solicitor lawyer Ram Singh who also acted for the first accused Lai Yam Huat, 26.

Ram informed the court the said application was to admit Karpal as counsel for the 24-year-old woman Voon Ai Win.

SLA vice-president Catherine Chau told the court that the association had no objection to the application as the case involves life and death.

However, she said she could not find the guideline on ad-hoc admission after the 1989 Circular.

Meanwhile, Customs head of prosecution from Putrajaya Datuk Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman also raised no objection to the application stating that it was a straight forward case.

“It does not involve any complicated issue of law and facts and not a noble issue,” he said.

After hearing the submissions Malanjum said that from his recollection and discussion with members of the SLA he vividly remembers three criteria, namely firstly, list of senior counsel practicing in Sabah who do not wish to act in capital punishment cases, secondly, undertaking of senior counsel to be present at trial once admitted for ad hoc involving life and death cases , and thirdly, admission of outside lawyers to argue in capital punishment cases in Sabah is normally allowed.

However, the court deferred to another date for the hearing of the said application to enable the SLA to verify the guideline on the ad-hoc admission for counsel involving capital punishment.

Lai and Voon, both from Penang, are accused of trafficking in the drugs at the Terminal 1 of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) here about 7pm on Dec 9, 2011.

They are liable to the mandatory death sentence if found guilty of the offence under Section 39B (1) (b) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

The duo had on April 20, this year pleaded not guilty to the offence and High Court judge David Wong Dak Wah set Dec 19 to 21 this year for trial.

They are currently remanded under Section 259 of the Criminal Procedure Code pending disposal of the case as the offence is non-bailable.

During the last mention of the case, Ram had told David that the family of Voon wanted to engage Karpal to represent her in the case.

Karpal was not present in court yesterday.