KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Identical twin brothers escaped the death penalty in a Malaysian drug trafficking trial after the court ruled authorities could not prove which man committed the alleged crime, news reports said Saturday.
"I ... can't be sending the wrong person to the gallows," the New Straits Times newspaper quoted the judge in the case as saying.
Police arrested the 27-year-old brothers in August 2003 after they found large amounts of opium and marijuana in a house to which one of the twins had the key, the New Straits Times and national news agency Bernama reported.
Both men were charged, but Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Zaharah Ibrahim ruled Friday that only the twin with the key could be proven to be the owner of the drugs.
Because the brothers' identical features made it impossible for officers testifying to point out which one had been found with the key, she had no choice but to acquit both men.
She called the ruling "a very unique case." Court officials familiar with the case could not immediately be reached.
The twins wept and hugged each other after the judge read her verdict, the reports added.
Malaysia has a mandatory penalty of death by hanging for drug trafficking. More than 200 people have been executed since capital punishment was implemented for the offense in 1975.