The last 24 hours of Kho Jabing’s life
by Varsha Sivaram
BY THE time you read this, Kho Jabing would be dead.
The 31-year-old Malaysian, who was convicted of murder in 2008 and sentenced to hang in 2010 was finally executed by the State at 3.30pm today (May 20). His death was swift and efficient. So was the Republic’s judicial system in the last 24 hours.
After a series of flip-flops surrounding his initial 2010 sentence, events that happened yesterday flipped the script again – and not just once.
Kho’s lawyers, Ms Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss and Mr Alfred Dodwell, issued two final attempts to prolong Kho’s life, both of which had failed. What was remarkable about this was the speed of the lawyers as well as the judges; for a case that has dragged on in the court system for close to six years, verdicts were shot back and forth, including from Singapore’s apex court, in just one day.
The first appeal was issued at 5.30pm yesterday, by Ms Chong-Aruldoss. Judges were already displeased with the day’s events, as this appeal had followed a motion filed by lawyer Gino Singh on Wednesday afternoon, and yet another filed by Ms Chong-Aruldoss on Thursday morning.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Francis Ng, who led the prosecution, referred to the repeated applications as “an abuse of the process”. This did not stop the lawyers’ bid to keep Kho from the gallows, as the appeal at 5.30pm would go on to see an outcome in the next three hours.
At 8.30pm, the appeal was dismissed by Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh. Kho was no longer on a stay of execution, and would be hanged – unless another appeal against the dismissal could be applied by 11pm on the same day – that is to say, in two-and-a-half hours.
Ms Chong-Aruldoss put together the appeal and delivered it on time. It looked like Kho’s life would again be saved at the eleventh hour.
Then, in a rare deliberation that took place overnight after Ms Chong-Aruldoss filed her appeal, the judges convened for a hearing at 9am and issued the outcome for this final appeal shortly after 12 noon.
The appeal was dismissed, and the judges were unimpressed with Kho’s lawyers.
“You knew very well the execution was to have taken place last year,” said Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin to Ms Chong-Aruldoss and Mr Dodwell. In the first hearing today, he stated: “We said that there comes a point, after the appeals have been heard and the applications for reviews have been decided, when the legal process must recede into the background and give way to the search for repose.
“We think the time has come.”
That time was precisely 3.30pm today.
Featured Image and images by Sean Chong.
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