PUTRAJAYA - A religious school teacher, who was sentenced to death for murdering a seven-year-old pupil five years ago, has escaped the gallows after the Court of Appeal here reduced his charge of murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
A three-man bench chaired by Justice Ahmadi Asnawi ruled that there were merits in Hanif Mohamad Ali's appeal and set aside his conviction and death sentence for murder.
Justice Ahmadi said there was no evidence to show that Hanif intended to cause injury to the deceased, Saiful Syazani Saiful Sopfidee, by smothering him.
Hanif, 32, however, would have to serve his 20 years' jail sentence as the court found him guilty of causing Saiful Syazani Saiful Sopfidee's death on the amended charge under Section 304(a) of the Penal Code.
Justice Ahmadi ordered him to serve his sentence from the date of his arrest, March 31, 2011.
Presiding with him were Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri Idrus Harun and High Court judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.
As soon as the panel delivered the decision, Hanif, who was standing in the dock, was seen heaving a sigh of relief.