Fri, May 18, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Mexicans sentenced to hang for trafficking in Malaysia

BROTHERS:In spite of human rights groups reporting that hangings have not been frequent in Malaysia in recent years, three Mexicans were given this penalty yesterday

AFP, Kuala Lumpur

Flanked by police, Mexican brothers Luis Alfonso Gonzalez Villarreal, left, Jose Regino, center, and Simon arrive at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Three Mexican brothers were sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia yesterday for their part in a methamphetamine production operation.

The Gonzalez Villarreals — Luis Alfonso, 44, Simon, 37, and Jose Regino, 33 — were convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to hang by the Kuala Lumpur High Court along with a Malaysian and a Singaporean.

The suspects were arrested at a factory in southern Malaysia in 2008, with police seizing almost 30kg of methamphetamine and chemicals used for its production.

“The court finds all five accused are guilty of the charge against them,” High Court Judge Mohamed Zawawi Salleh said.

“All five accused were aware and were involved in the activity of drug making ... The offense is serious,” he added.

Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death penalty in Malaysia, a primarily Muslim country, though executions are not publicly announced and activists say few people are thought to have been hanged in recent years.

The five men’s lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, a process which can take years.

The three brothers, who come from Mexico’s northern Sinaloa state, are believed to be the first Mexicans sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Malaysia.

The three, handcuffed to each other and carrying their belongings in a white bag, looked ashen-faced and shaken after the verdict was read out.

“We are very sad. We thought we are going to be acquitted,” the eldest, Luis Alfonso, said in Spanish.

Lawyers for the brothers argued that the evidence was tampered with. The accused testified they were merely workers at the premises to clean and were unaware of any illegal activity.

Juan Manuel Gonzalez, the deputy chief of mission at the Mexican Embassy, said his government respected the verdict and would continue to monitor the appeal.

“We respect the Malaysian legal system. The only thing we want is that the rights of these three Mexicans are respected, and they have a fair and transparent trial,” he said.

Hundreds of Malaysians and foreigners are on death row in Malaysia, mostly for drug trafficking.

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