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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Former AG stands by decision to prosecute Sam Ke Ting

Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas has defended his decision to appeal the Magistrate Court’s judgment to acquit sales promoter Sam Ke Ting from a charge of reckless driving which caused the death of eight cycling teenagers.

Following the 2019 decision, the public prosecutor consulted Thomas and recommended an appeal. It was then Thomas decided to appeal against the Magistrate Court’s decision to acquit and discharge the accused without Sam entering her defence.

“It would be a very brave prosecutor, anywhere in the world, who refuses or fails to prosecute a person - a car driver - who had collided into eight cyclists who were killed. Eight lives were lost.

“And a prosecutor who does not prosecute (such a case) would be very brave because the most sensible thing would be to (...) let the court decide whether the accused has a defence.

“So, I stand by my decision and I think it was right to prosecute and to appeal.

“If we have a bad case, then the court will acquit and if we have a good case the court will convict. It's the function of the court to decide whether we have a good case or not,” Thomas said last night.

He said this during an online talk show hosted by lawyer and Youtuber Ang Woei Shang which was streamed live.

Controversial decisions

In 2019, magistrate Siti Hajar Ali acquitted Sam without calling her to enter her defence after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case.

Sam was charged under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333) which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of RM20,000 if convicted.

In her judgment, Siti Hajar said the court took into consideration several factors, namely that it was a dark, hilly and winding road where the driver - who was not local to the area - could not foresee that there would be a group of cyclists on the road at 3am.

The magistrate added that the bicycle gang had put themselves in danger.

Upon appeal, however, the High Court in Johor Bahru ordered Sam to enter her defence after finding that the prosecution had made a prima facie case against the 27-year-old.

Following this, magistrate Siti Hajar Ali heard the trial and acquitted and discharged Sam after examining all the evidence presented, a decision that was overturned yet again by the High Court.

Sam was sentenced to six years in prison and was also fined RM6,000. Failure to pay the fine will result in additional six-month imprisonment. Sam was also disqualified from driving for three years, effective immediately after she completes her prison sentence.

Sam is currently out on bail and has been granted leave to appeal the High Court's decision at the Court of Appeal.

“So, it is one of those things where you can see the way the court is going - the different decisions,” Thomas said.

“That's how the legal system works. We have to wait and see what the Court of Appeal does.” - Mkini

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