PUTRAJAYA: An Islamic religious teacher has to face the death penalty as the Federal Court reinstated his conviction for the murder of a seven-year-old pupil more than five years ago.
Hanif Mohamad Ali, 32, was sentenced to 20 years’ jail by the Court of Appeal in March last year after that court set aside his murder conviction and death sentence and instead convicted him on a reduced charge of committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
A five-man bench of the Federal Court led by judge Suriyadi Halim Omar today allowed the prosecution’s appeal to reverse the appellate court’s decision.
It (the court) restored the Perlis High Court’s decision which found Hanif, who was then a hostel warden at a religious primary school, guilty of murdering Saiful Syazani Saiful Sopfidee, a Year One student at Asrama Putra, Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Furqan, Arau, Perlis, between 6pm and midnight on March 31, 2011.
Meanwhile, the bench also dismissed Hanif’s appeal against the jail term. The other judges on the bench were justices Abu Samah Nordin, Ramly Ali, Zaharah Ibrahim and Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha.
Hanif, in green-coloured prison clothes, looked composed when the court announced the verdict. After the court stood down its proceedings, Hanif was seen embracing his family members, including his mother who was in tears.
According to the facts of the case, the boy had been made to stand with his hands bound upright to an iron bar and was hit on the head and slapped for allegedly stealing money.
Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin submitted that the pathologist’s evidence revealed that the boy was strangled for four minutes and considering that he (the boy) was tied and beaten, it showed that Hanif had intention to cause injury to him which led to his death.
Hanif’s lawyer, Ariff Azami Hussein, argued that there was no misdirection by the Court of Appeal when it reduced the charge against his client.
The Perlis High Court had initially amended Hanif’s charge from murder to committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder at the end of the prosecution’s case. Hanif subsequently pleaded guilty to the amended charge and was sentenced to 18 years’ jail.
The prosecution then appealed to the Court of Appeal which ordered Hanif to enter his defence on the murder charge at the High Court. At the end of the defence’s case, Hanif was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by the High Court.