Killer faces gallows after final plea fails

CONVICTED killer Muhammad Kadar failed in his clemency plea to be spared the gallows and is due to be executed by the prison authorities today.

His petition for a reprieve was turned down by the President last week after due consideration and on the advice of the Cabinet.

Muhammad, 39, was first sentenced to death for knifing an elderly housewife more than 110 times in 2005 in a Boon Lay Avenue flat. His appeal was rejected by the three-judge apex court in 2011.

But after a 2013 law change - which gave judges the discretion to impose a life sentence and caning instead of the death penalty for certain categories of murder - he was able to launch a fresh bid for re-sentencing to the Court of Appeal last year.

The court refused, making clear he was guilty of the most serious form of murder, pointing to his own testimony and other objective evidence.

Muhammad is believed to be the longest-serving inmate to face capital punishment, having been in custody for about nine years and eight months - which included five years and nine months on death row.

Lawyer Amarick Gill, who had drafted the petition, visited Muhammad in prison on Wednesday and said yesterday that his client looked calm and was "at ease with himself and fully prepared". He added: "He has expressed remorse for what he had done and this was evident at an early stage when he confessed to his role of 'sole involvement', thereby saving his older brother Ismil who was wrongly accused of the crime. His decision to do so effectively meant that he had condemned himself. Even yesterday, he told me 'I made the right decision'."

Today's scheduled execution will seal the long-running case in which Muhammad, together with Ismil, first went on trial in 2006 for murdering their 69-year-old neighbour while they robbed her.

The three-year trial saw many twists and turns, including Muhammad's stunning confession that he was the sole assailant - though he had implicated his brother in police statements. Both were found guilty of murder by the High Court in 2009 and sentenced to hang.

Ismil was freed in 2011 after the Court of Appeal cleared him of murder but Muhammad's appeal was dismissed. He obtained temporary respite when executions were put on hold in July 2011 while the Government began a review of the death penalty regime which led to changes to the law in 2013. "He understands he is the author of his own demise", and accepted that his fate rested in the President's "good hands", wrote Mr Gill in the clemency petition.

vijayan@sph.com.sg