Murderer granted stay of execution on 11th-hour motion

Convicted murderer Jabing Kho was granted a temporary stay of execution less than 24 hours before he was set to be hanged.
Convicted murderer Jabing Kho was granted a temporary stay of execution less than 24 hours before he was set to be hanged. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Less than 24 hours before he was set to be hanged, convicted murderer Jabing Kho was granted a temporary stay of execution by the same judges who sentenced him.

Yesterday, a five-judge Court of Appeal allowed the 11th-hour motion to give his newly appointed lawyer more time to prepare his case.

Kho, a 31-year-old from Sarawak, had been due to go to the gallows today for the brutal murder of a construction worker seven years ago, after his appeal for clemency was rejected by the President last month.

But his new lawyer, Mr Chandra Mohan K Nair - who was briefed by Kho's family only on Tuesday night - filed a criminal motion on Wednesday asking for a stay pending a ruling on arguments to quash his death sentence. He is seeking a partial retrial focused on issues relating to Kho's sentence.

At yesterday's hearing, the motion was objected to by the prosecution, which contended that no arguable issues have been raised. Kho's mother, sister and cousin were in court.

On Feb 17, 2008, Kho and an accomplice attacked construction workers Cao Ruyin, 40, and Wu Jun, 44, in Geylang Drive while trying to rob the Chinese nationals. Mr Wu received outpatient treatment but Mr Cao, who was bludgeoned with a tree branch, died from head injuries six days later.

Kho's fate has seen many twists and turns since he and accomplice Galing Kujat were given the death penalty - then mandatory for murder - in 2010.

Kujat, who used his belt buckle as a weapon, in 2011 successfully appealed against the murder charge. He was convicted of robbery with hurt and sentenced to 18 1/2 years' jail and 19 strokes of the cane.

Kho's appeal failed. But he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013, after the law was changed to give judges the discretion to opt for a life term for murder with no intention to cause death.

The prosecution appealed, arguing that Kho's vicious crime warranted the death penalty. In a landmark ruling in January, the five-judge court gave a split 3-2 decision in favour of sending Kho to the gallows for the fatal attack.

The case has attracted the attention of human rights groups, including Amnesty International and local outfit Second Chances.

No date has yet been set for the next court hearing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Murderer granted stay of execution on 11th-hour motion'. Print Edition | Subscribe