By V. Anbalagan | Free Malaysia Today

A. Arokiasamy, now 73, was arrested on July 19, 2000 for murdering his sister-in-law over a botched business venture. — FILE PIC

A former medical equipment supplier who murdered his sister-in-law more than two decades ago was freed by the Federal Court today after his death sentence was commuted to a 33-year prison term.

A three-member bench chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who sat with Justices Zabariah Yusof and Abu Bakar Jais, ordered A. Arokiasamy, 73, who is now wheelchair-bound, to serve 33 years in prison from the date of his arrest on July 19, 2000.

Arokiasamy was eligible for release due to good behaviour. His family, including his wife, were in court to hear the decision.

The case was brought up under the Revision of the Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023, which permits review of sentencing for capital cases.

Arokiasamy had been found guilty of murdering S. Ganam in a car parked at Taman Perindustrian Berjaya in Tampoi, Johor, between 9.30pm and 11pm on July 19, 2000.

According to the facts of the case, Arokiasamy, shivering and dressed in a shirt stained with blood, surrendered to the police and admitted committing the murder.

A post-mortem revealed that Ganam’s throat was cut.

During the trial, he testified that the deceased was staying with him and his family in Johor Bahru and she had promised to join him in a new business venture.

However, she changed her mind, which resulted in an argument that first took place in the house.

The argument continued in Arokiasamy’s car, resulting in the murder taking place.

Arokiasamy’s lawyer, Edmund Bon, asked for a prison term of 30 to 33 years, adding that Arokiasamy had already been in prison for nearly 24 years.

Bon, who was assisted by Michael Cheah, said that when Parliament amended the law, it intended for judges to lean in favour of the presumption of life, subject to extenuating circumstances.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorhisham Jaafar urged the bench to uphold the death penalty or impose a prison term of up to 35 years.

The High Court had, on Jan 18, 2008, acquitted Arokiasamy at the close of the defence’s case on the grounds of insanity, and ordered him into the care of Permai Psychiatric Hospital.

However, the Court of Appeal overturned this decision, convicted him of murder and sentenced to death, which was upheld by the Federal Court on March 26, 2012.