Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Woman on death row walks free

PUTRAJAYA: A Thai woman, who was found guilty of trafficking ganja seven years ago, escaped the gallows yesterday when her conviction and sentenced were set aside by the Court of Appeal.

Roseedah Che Udong broke down in tears and immediately kissed the hands of her counsel Karpal Singh before leaving the court.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench yesterday allowed Roseedah's appeal on the grounds that the High Court judge did not consider her defence in totality.

Roseedah, 41, was jointly charged with pirate taxi operator, Isa Shafei, with trafficking in 1,014g of ganja in front of a petrol kiosk at Kampung Padang Pak Amat in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan, on Feb 3, 2004.

However, the charge against Isa was withdrawn before trial began as he had turned prosecution witness.

Roseedah, from Pattani, was found guilty and sentenced to the gallows in 2009. However, the appeal court judges, led by Datin Paduka Zaleha Zahari, found that the trial judge misdirected himself in appraising Roseedah's defence.

"The trial judge did not fully consider her defence from all angles." 

Zaleha said Roseedah's testimony during defence -- that she threw a package out of the passenger car window -- was not taken into account by the High Court judge.

She said the High Court failed to consider that the car driver, Isa, had instructed Roseedah to throw the package on seeing policemen.

"The prosecution contended that the defence did not raise this matter when Isa was cross-examined and that it was merely an afterthought. 

"But the appeal record shows otherwise." Zaleha said the judge also applied the wrong standard of proof. This resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

Karpal, in his submission, said that Roseedah had boarded the taxi driven by Isa who had invited her to attend a kenduri at a house of person known as "Abang Mat".

She entered the car and saw the package on the front passenger seat. Isa had asked her to place it on the floorboard of the vehicle.

Karpal said Isa told her the package was to be given to "someone".

The lawyer said Isa instructed Roseedah to throw the package upon seeing the police.

A police officer, Chief Inspector Hazali Yaacob, also testified that Isa was behaving suspiciously when the car was stopped.

"Isa also started crying," Karpal said, adding that the driver's conduct revealed that he was guilty of committing an offence.

Roseedah, who was on death row for almost two years, rushed out of the court with her daughter after the appeal was allowed. - nst

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