Mexico brothers lose final death sentence appeal in Malaysia

AP News
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Posted: Apr 23, 2015 5:47 AM
Mexico brothers lose final death sentence appeal in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Three Mexican brothers and two other people on Thursday lost their final appeals against death sentences for drug trafficking in Malaysia, their lawyer said.

The Mexicans are from Sinaloa state, the cradle of their country's drug trade, but have no criminal record at home. They were arrested at a secluded drug-making factory in Malaysia in 2008, and claimed they had been cleaning the place, not making drugs.

Their lawyer Kitson Foong said a five-man bench in the Federal Court, Malaysia's highest court, unanimously rejected their appeal. The defense has argued that the evidence was tampered with, but the judges said that they were satisfied the men were guilty, Foong said.

The brothers — Jose Regino Gonzales, 37, Simon, 40, and Luis Alfonso, 47 — were sentenced to death in 2012. The other two were Singaporean Lim Hung Wang and Malaysian Lee Boon Siah.

Foong said the brothers may seek a judicial review of the court's decision. Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death by hanging in Malaysia.

The lower courts had previously rejected the defense's contention that some evidence discrepancies amounted to tampering after a chemist testified that seven items he received for analysis looked different from what he had seen at the drug factory.

The prosecution denied there was any manipulation and said that traces of drug chemicals were found on the men's clothes and stains on their underwear.

At the factory where the men were arrested, police found more than 29 kilograms (63 pounds) of methamphetamine worth 44 million ringgit ($12 million).

The men are the first Mexicans arrested in Malaysia on drug trafficking charges. They worked making and selling bricks in Mexico, and their family said they left for a job opportunity abroad. Relatives and neighbors insist there was no sign they were involved in the drug trade.

Malaysia's government says it has hanged more than 440 people in the past 50 years, many of them for drug crimes, while some 900 are on death row.