Finers saves soldiers from Brunei death sentence

A LONDON firm of solicitors has helped secure the freedom of three soldiers who were sentenced to death in Brunei for allegedly exchanging guns for cough mixture.

Finers partner Richard Curtin handled the successful appeal of three members of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

The men had been sentenced to hang for illegally possessing firearms as a result of illegal weapons trade – believed to provide them with a supply of the painkiller codeine.

Firearms offences in Brunei have been seen as serious since 1962 when a state of emergency was declared after rebels attempted to seize power.

The three defendants were forced to remain in custody dressed only in their underpants – a practice common in Brunei. They were questioned under a “special procedure” reserved for firearms suspects that involved chaining the suspects' hands behind their backs and placing hoods over their heads.

The men were charged with illegal possession of a Browning pistol, convicted and sentenced to death three years ago. They took the convictions to the Court of Appeal but lost.

However, the sentences and convictions were overturned by the Lords of the judicial committee of the Privy Council, sitting in London, because some of the written and oral evidence appeared unreliable.