Criminals ‘could be forced into court for sentencing’ after Sabina Nessa’s ‘cowardly’ killer failed to attend

·2-min read
Pictured: Sabina Nessa’s killer Koci Selamaj  (PA Wire)
Pictured: Sabina Nessa’s killer Koci Selamaj (PA Wire)

Criminals may be forced to attend court if new rules are imposed after the killer of Sabina Nessa refused to go to his sentencing hearing.

Ms Nessa, 28, was bludgeoned by garage worker Koci Selemaj before being dragged into the undergrowth of a south-east London park where she was strangled.

Selemaj, 36, an Esso garage worker, faces life in prison for the murder but he failed to attend his sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey.

Sabina Nessa was bludgeoned by garage worker Koci Selemaj before being dragged into the undergrowth of a south-east London park where she was strangled (PA Media)
Sabina Nessa was bludgeoned by garage worker Koci Selemaj before being dragged into the undergrowth of a south-east London park where she was strangled (PA Media)

Ms Nessa’s sister Jabina held back tears as she called Selemaj a “coward” for “not facing up to your responsibility and for what damage you have done to our family”.

The Ministry of Justice is now investigating whether it should change the rules, according to The Sun.

Labour has called for changes to be implemented to give judges the power to force convicts to attend their sentencing hearing in person.

Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, told the newspaper: “Judges need the power to force offenders to literally face justice in court, instead of refusing to attend court and causing more unimaginable grief to victims.”

If Labour win the next election, they apparently have hatched a plan to change the law.

A Government source said: “The Justice Secretary is looking at this very carefully.”

It comes as the Labour shadow prisons minister Ellie Reeves called for judges to be given more powers to force criminals to attend their sentencing hearings.

Speaking to Times Radio, Ms Reeves said: “Victims aren’t at the heart of the criminal justice system.”

She said Labour wants judges to be able to hold criminals for contempt of court if they refuse to attend their sentencing.

“It shifts that balance back to victims from the perpetrators of crime, and that is how the balance should be,” she added.

Ms Reeves also said people “want to see those who have committed horrendous crimes to be held to account for what they have done”.

She added: “We haven’t even got a victims’ code on a statutory footing in this country – we have been promised it time and time again.”

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