In Brunei, convicted murderers won’t evade prison by paying ‘blood money’

syariah not against hamQuratul-Ain Bandial

MURDERERS convicted under the Syariah Penal Code may still face jail time even if they have paid ‘blood money’ and been pardoned of the death penalty by the victim’s family, legal officers said yesterday.

Offenders may not necessarily be able to walk free if they pay diyat (compensation), said Hardiyatie Kahar, an officer from the Islamic Legal Unit.

Hardiyatie Kahar

Hardiyatie Kahar

Courts have the discretion to jail convicted murderers that have paid diyat, if the offender is deemed a threat to society.

Under the new legislation – which takes effect on April 22 – the accused is sentenced to death if he confesses to the murder, or if four male Muslims testify to witnessing the offence. If the evidence does not meet these requirements, the death penalty cannot be imposed.

However, the families of the deceased can request diyat, or blood money, be paid in lieu of a death sentence for the guilty party.

The Syariah Penal Code states that the value of diyat is 1000 dinar (4250 grammes of gold) or its value in local currency. So if the market price of one gramme of gold is $80 (Brunei dollars), the value of diyat is $340,000.

Dato Seri Setia Hj Tassim Hj Akim

Dato Seri Setia Hj Tassim Hj Akim

Director of Islamic Legal Unit Dato Seri Setia Hj Tassim Hj Akim said diyat is not a fixed sum, and that it can be negotiated between the offender and the victim’s family.

Diyat can be less or more than ($340,000),” he told media.

Hj Afif Daraina PDH Badaruddin, a legal advisor at the Attorney General’s Chambers, added that non-Muslims are also subject to hadd punishment, such as amputation of limbs for theft and the death penalty for murder.

“The Syariah Penal Code has universal application,” he said.

Hadd is punishment for specific offences as ordained in the Quran and Hadith. It covers six areas – theft, illicit sexual relations, making unproven accusations of illicit sex, drinking intoxicants, apostasy and robbery. Strict requirements for evidence (including eyewitnesses) has severely limited the application of hadd penalties.

Although the law takes effect on April 22, hadd punishments (excluding the death penalthy) will only be enforced one year after the Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) is gazetted.

The death penalty will be enforced two years after the CPC is gazetted.

Hj Afif said the CPC is in the final reading and will be introduced soon.

The Brunei Times
Friday, April 4, 2014


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