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Lim Hang Seoh v. Public Prosecutor

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Court/Judicial body: Federal Court of Kuala Lumpur

Citation: [1978] 1 MLJ 68 (Criminal Appeal No 54 of 1977)
Date: 4 October 1977
Instrument(s) cited: Regulation 3(3) of the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975: provisions for juvenile offenders under the Juvenile Courts Act 1947 shall not apply under the regulations.

Case summary

Background: In this case the appellant, a boy of 14 years was found guilty by the High Court of the offence of possession of a pistol and ammunition and sentenced to death under section 57 of the Internal Security Act. He appealed to the Federal Court.

Issue and resolution: Death sentence for minor offender. The Federal Court dismissed the appeal and upheld both the guilty verdict and death sentence passed by the trial court.

Court reasoning: The trial judge was right in concluding that the appellant knew that bag found in his possession contained a pistol and ammunition. The evidence showed that the appellant handled the bag on four separate occasions not once. In view of the provisions of regulation 3 of the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975, according to which the Juvenile Courts Act 1947 is not applicable to persons convicted of a security offence, there was only one sentence authorised by law for the offence and that is the sentence of death, despite the fact that the accused was only a boy of 14. The Federal Court therefore had to affirm the sentence of the High Court. Impact: It is reported that the appellant made a final appeal to the Yang Dipertuan Agung (head of state / king of Malaysia) and his death sentence was subsequently commuted to detention until the age of 21. There are no other known cases in which capital punishment has been handed to children.

Link to full judgement: Available on request.

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