Swede sentenced to death in Malaysia

Swede sentenced to death in Malaysia
A 44-year-old Swedish citizen has been given the death penalty by a Malaysian court for drugs trafficking, a crime which is penalized by hanging in the south-east Asian country.

“Our embassy staff members have visited the man regularly since he was arrested and have also followed the trial,” Anna Buhré Kervefors of the Foreign Ministry told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

“We don’t have any information about whether the man will appeal.”

The 44-year-old was arrested in the arrivals hall of the Kuala Lumpur airport in December 2011. He was carrying 4.3 kilograms of methamphetamine. The drugs were hidden at the bottom of his bag.

On Thursday, a Malaysian court issued the death penalty with the judge, Noor Azian, claiming the prosecutor had sound evidence against the man.

“With no other alternatives available, the court has to impose a sentence of death as provided under the law,” said Azian, according to Malaysian news site NewStraitsTimes.

Azian said the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case and that the Swede had relied solely on denial in his defence against the charge.

The Swede is of Iranian origin and was living in Stockholm before moving to Thailand several years ago. According to the news site Asiaone News, the 44-year-old owns a bar in Pattaya, a popular holiday destination for Swedes.

“I haven’t seen or heard from him in at least five years,” the man’s ex-wife told Aftonbladet. She was shocked to hear of his ordeal.

“I know that he has travelled to Thailand before, but I had no idea he had moved there. I have asked him to get in touch now and then or to send a postcard, but he never did,” she said.

A total of nine witnesses testified in the trial.

Representatives at Sweden’s Foreign Ministry remained in the dark about proceedings, but pointed out that the Swede was not alone in standing in line for the death penalty.

“There are several hundred people who are in prison and awaiting a death penalty,” Catarina Axelsson, spokeswoman at the ministry, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“But the last execution in Malaysia was carried out in 2010,” she added.

“The hope has been that Malaysia would abolish the death penalty, but it can take time. Sweden and the EU are actively working against the death penalty.”

Axelsson said that it was “very unusual” for a Swede to be sentenced to death.

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