PETALING JAYA - Ismail (not his real name) had been in jail since he was 16.
Eleven years later, he is a free man, thanks to a pardon granted by Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.
He committed murder in 2004 and had been in detention under the pleasure of the Ruler while waiting for a royal pardon.
"Until today, I still cannot believe it.
"It was as though I had risen from the dead, but I am grateful to Allah for this huge blessing and immensely grateful to the Sultan," he said in an interview with mStar Online.
Ismail is one of 11 convicts given the royal pardon by Sultan Ibrahim in conjunction with his coronation on Monday, and the only one to be released.
The rest had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
"I am so touched. This is the first time I met the Sultan, but I can feel his Highness has the people close to his heart," said Ismail.
He said the Sultan advised him to forget the past and to start a new life.
"I will try my best to be a useful person," said Ismail who could not hold his tears back when the Sultan spoke to him last Thursday.
Being a juvenile criminal, Ismail was not given the life sentence when he was convicted of the crime.
He spoke of his experiences in prison - at Simpang Renggam and Ayer Molek in Johor and Kajang in Selangor.
"There have been so many bitter memories these 11 years and they definitely taught me the meaning of life.
"There is no way I want to go back after what I went through. I just want to find peace with my family and among the people around.
"I am grateful for having a loving family," he added.