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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Executioner tells of eerie goings on

DESPITE his humble and polite demeanour, Kesavan A. Arumugam is a man who can strike fear in the heart of the most-hardened prisoner. The reason - he was an executioner who spent the first month of his working career on attachment in Pudu Prison.

Although he spent much of his career in the Kajang Prison, he was recalled to Pudu Prison whenever there were executions. He said he had performed about four executions in Pudu before the department started to carry out the sentence in Kajang.

He remembers Pudu Prison as it was there that he both witnessed and carried out his first execution.

He explains that there was a team involved, and his task was to handcuff the prisoner, place a hood over him, escort the condemned from their cell to the execution chamber, where their legs would be tied and the noose placed over their neck.

"Basically, I did everything except pull the lever (to release the trap door). That was another person's job," he says.

The hangings at Pudu Prison, he says, were eerie affairs.

"The corridors were narrow and the lighting was dim, adding to the eeriness of the execution. There was a chill about the place."

The gallows he says, were very old as the trapdoor worked with a pulley system and the creaking made it all seem unreal and scary.

The execution chamber at the Kajang prison works on a hydraulic system which is quieter and more efficient. And the place is much brighter, he adds.

Taking a human life is not for the faint hearted, but Kesavan says he has no regrets about having carried out the job.

"After an execution you do feel tense. Usually I would avoid people, and an adjustment of the mind was needed. But after a few days I would feel better," he says.

"I believe that I did what I did for the benefit of the nation. Those people had already exhausted all avenues of law, and I only did the final bit.

"Since I was able to interact with the prisoners, I learnt what they had done and I do not feel bad," says Kesavan.

He has his own scary tale to tell, involving Mohd Affandi Abdul Rahman, who along with his bomoh wife Mona Fandey, had been sentenced to death for the murder of Batu Talam state assemblyman Datuk Mazlan Idris.

Affandi, he says, had asked him to bring him a rose bud.

"When I eventually did, Affandi put it on his palm and recited a few words. And the rosebud flew round and round," he claimed.

"I know it's unbelievable but I saw it."

He says Affandi then asked for a bottle of water, tore the rosebud into bits, put it in the bottle and gave it to him as a magic potion.

"However, I did not want anything to do with that. And I left the bottle at the officer's area," he says.



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