By V. Anbalagan | Free Malaysia Today

Abdul Salam Zainal Abidin was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in jail so his whipping sentence can be carried out.

The Court of Appeal today imposed a sentence of 10 years and six months in jail and 10 strokes of the rotan on a former staff member of the army after he pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis eight years ago.

Abdul Salam Zainal Abidin had been sentenced to death for drug trafficking, but the charge was reduced to one of possession after representations to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

A three-member bench chaired by Justice Hanipah Farikullah ordered Salam’s jail term to begin from June 16, 2015, the date of his arrest.

Hanipah, who sat with Justices Nazlan Ghazali and Azmi Ariffin, pronounced the sentence following submissions on the length of the imprisonment term to be imposed.

Earlier, defence counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad informed the bench that representations to the AGC for a reduction in the charge had been accepted by the prosecution.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Khusairy Ibrahim confirmed the matter.

On Sept 18, 2019, the High Court in Alor Setar sentenced Salam, 46, to death after he was found guilty of trafficking 517gm of the drugs.

Salam, a maintenance personnel at an army camp, committed the offence at a house in Sungai Petani at about 9.50pm on June 16, 2015.

Following the acceptance of the representations, he pleaded guilty today to an amended charge of possession, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and the mandatory minimum 10 strokes of the rotan prescribed by law.

Amer suggested a jail term of between eight and 10 years, which would have allowed Salam to walk out a free man after taking into account the usual one-third remission given for good behaviour.

Khusairy, however, proposed imprisonment of between 10 and 13 years to reflect the current sentencing trend for the offence.

“The accused cannot be brought back to prison to be whipped (after being freed),” he said.

Noting that the whipping sentence needed to be administered, the bench sentenced Salam to 10 years and six months in prison and 10 strokes of the rotan.

It also quashed the High Court ruling that imposed the death penalty.