SINGAPORE: After his death row appeal was dismissed for a second time last month, Malaysian Kho Jabing's family held a press conference on Sunday (May 1) in an attempt to shore up support for a petition urging Singapore president Tony Tan Keng Yam to grant Kho clemency.
Kho, 31, had been sentenced to hang in 2010 for killing a man by striking his head with a tree branch in a botched robbery attempt. The victim sustained 14 skull fractures and a brain injury, and died six days later.
We Believe in Second Chances, an organisation that is against the death penalty in Singapore, said in a Facebook post on Sunday that Kho's family appealed to the people and politicians of Sarawak to support their campaign for mercy.
The group's petition on website Change.org had 170 signatures as of Monday, 30 signatures short of its target.
An online report by Malaysian newspaper The Star said Kho's sister Jumai Kho appealed to Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem to seek a lesser penalty from Singapore authorities.
We Believe in Second Chances said that during the press conference, it explained to the press that Kho had exhausted all his legal options but pointed out that during sentencing one High Court judge and two Judges of Appeal did not feel that the death penalty was appropriate.
"Seeing that the death penalty is a harsh, final and irreversible punishment, even a shred of doubt should not be acceptable," the group said, reiterating its call on President Tan to grant clemency to Kho and on the Cabinet of Singapore to advise him to do so.
According to The Star, We Believe in Second Chances founding member Kirsten Han estimated it would take three months from the submission of the petition for the President to announce his decision.
This could buy Kho three more months of life, said The Star.
Kho's first appeal against his death sentence was dismissed in 2011, but he successfully appealed again in 2013 after changes to the law abolishing the mandatory death penalty in certain categories of murder.
After he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane, however, the prosecution mounted another appeal and Kho was sentenced to death in January 2015 in a split 3-2 decision.
In a last-ditch attempt to save Kho from the gallows, his lawyer Chandra Mohan K Nair filed an eleventh-hour motion just two days before his execution was supposed to take place in November 2015, stating that Kho’s right to “a fair trial and fair sentencing” were not addressed at the previous hearing. This appeal was dismissed by the apex court on Apr 5 in a unanimous decision.