An Australian man on trial for drug trafficking in Kuala Lumpur may have his life saved if the Malaysian government goes ahead with plans to abolish the mandatory death penalty.
Perth man Dominic Bird is on trial for allegedly attempting to sell 167.8 grams of methamphetamine to Malaysian undercover police.
Under section 39B of Malaysia's Dangerous Drugs Act as it stands, Bird will be sentenced to death by hanging if found guilty.
But there is a chance that section of the act may be abolished.
That would give judges discretion to hand out jail sentences rather than being required to order execution when delivering guilty verdicts to drug traffickers.
If Bird, 32, is convicted, any change to the law would have to apply retrospectively to commute the death sentence.
Charles Hector, a lawyer and co-ordinator of Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture, says the government is "seriously considering" the change.
"[The government is] realising that the people who have been arrested, charged and convicted, most of the time are mules, and sometimes some of them are actually conned and many of these are young people," he told AM.
In practice, few of those convicted of drug trafficking have been executed in recent years but they still wait in jail expecting to be hanged.
Mr Hector says a law change would also be good news for those people.
"I think the chances are good, at the end of the day. It's not just Dominic but the whole number of people who are languishing in death row today," he said.
The fact that a number of Malaysians have been executed in other countries for drug offences seems to have prompted the rethink of the law, along with changes along similar lines in Singapore.
Bird's barrister Muhammad Shafee says an unspoken moratorium on executions should be formalised with a change to legislation.
"Death penalty has slowed down, in terms of execution," he said.
"There is some kind of moratorium, unofficially, but I cannot confirm that with you because I may be totally wrong.
"But as you know a moratorium is normally given when you are considering a change of the law. That could be the situation."
During Bird's trial the prosecution has so far called police witnesses, who have responded to questions about the collection and storage of evidence that was seized during and after the bust.
A chemist who was responsible for testing the drugs also testified.
During cross-examination, defence lawyers questioned the testing of the drug that was allegedly seized from Bird during the sting, suggesting that not enough was tested to be legally valid.
By South East Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel, 4th December 2012.
ABC News Australia.
Hope for death row Aussie as Malaysia mulls change