Two Turkish Cypriots, who appealed death sentences imposed on them last year in Malaysia for drug offences had their punishments reduced to 20 years’ imprisonment, the foreign ministry announced on Tuesday.
“The supreme court of Malaysia, met yesterday, November 21, 2016 to hear the appeal of Cypriot nationals Mehmet Ucaner Oktay and Muhammet Osman, against the death penalty imposed on them by the first instance court following their arrest for possession and drug trafficking,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.
“The supreme court quashed the first instance judgment, and instead condemned the said persons to twenty years in prison. One of the two was also sentenced to ten lashes.”
The ministry said the sentences will run from November 5, 2011, the date on which the pair, said to be aged 67 and 57, were arrested at Kuala Lumpur Airport after arriving on a flight from Dubai. They have been in prison since then after being found to be in possession of a large quantity of unspecified drugs, found in their luggage.
The initial court decision, in April last year, ruled they be hanged for their crimes, with the death sentence being mandatory for those found guilty of drugs trafficking in Malaysia.
“From the time of their arrest, until the final decision, full consular assistance was provided by the foreign ministry, which included frequent visits to prisons by consular officers of the high commission of the republic in New Delhi, financial and psychological support, and most importantly, the delegation of a suitable law firm for their defence, which resulted in the result reported,” the statement continued.
“The ministry of foreign affairs and particularly the high commission in New Delhi had, throughout the judicial process excellent cooperation both with the prisoners themselves and their families and with their defence lawyers. It is noted that the handling of the whole matter took into account the seriousness of the offence for which both Cypriot nationals were accused, but also the principled position of the republic against the death penalty.”