Two brothers, who have been on death row for almost two decades, had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang in the High Court yesterday.
Bharatraj and Lallman Mulai, who were found guilty by the court and sentenced to death on 6 July 1994, had been on death row for a total of 18 years.
However, their sentences were commuted by Justice Chang after their attorney, Nigel Hughes, filed a motion on their behalf arguing that the death penalty is inhumane.
The Mulai brothers were charged with the murder of Doodnauth Seeram, which occurred between August 29 and 31, 1992.
The prosecution’s case was that the brothers and Seeram had an argument over cows grazing on the latter’s land. During the course of the argument, the brothers repeatedly chopped Seeram with a cutlass and a weapon similar to a spear.
After Seeram fell to the ground, they beat him with sticks.
On September 1, 1992, Seeram’s body was found by his son, drowned in a small river in the proximity of his property.
His body bore injuries to the head, the right hand cut off above the wrist and a rope tied around the neck to keep the body submerged in water.
The Mulais were arrested shortly after in connection with the crime.
After being sentenced to death, the Court of Appeal had ordered a retrial on January 10, 1995 but upon conclusion of the re-trial, the brothers were again convicted and sentenced to death on March 1, 1996.
On 29 December 1997, their sentence was confirmed on appeal.
After several requests to the government for information on the case in April 1998, Decem-ber, 1998, December, 2000, August, 2001 and March, 2003 went unanswered, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded in August 2004 that the brothers’ trial had been unfair and recommended “an effective remedy, including commutation of their death sentences.”