The hopes of hundreds of convicted murderers and drug offenders that they might escape the gallows on appeal have been dashed by strong indications the Government intends to change a vital law. A recent Federal Court judgment placed a heavier burden for proof on the prosecution in criminal cases, but this may now be reversed. Karpal Singh, an MP and the lawyer in the case that led to the landmark ruling, said such a move would 'defeat the rights of all those affected' by the Federal Court ruling. 'It would be very far reaching, very drastic and against the public interest,' he said. The Federal Court, by a four to three margin, accepted Mr Karpal Singh's argument that a judge must be satisfied that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt before calling on the accused to offer a defence. It quashed the conviction of a truck driver on a capital charge of trafficking in 1,396 grams of cannabis. Previously, courts had followed a Privy Council decision that judges needed to only see if there was evidence which was 'not inherently incredible'. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Government was studying the implications of the Federal Court ruling, including the possibility of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. Dr Mahathir said justice must serve the interests of society as well as the accused. 'If we lean towards the interest of the criminal, society would be deprived of justice.' He said the 400-odd cases put on hold pending the ruling would remain until the government study was completed. Dr Mahathir added the Government believed that if they went ahead it would lose them all. Asked to comment on Dr Mahathir's remarks, Chief Justice Eusoff Chin, who supported the Federal Court ruling, said the law was 'ambiguous and messy' and should be amended to make the intention clear. Mr Karpal Singh said his opposition Democratic Action Party would oppose any amendment to the law to overturn the ruling, but the Government's overwhelming majority in Parliament would ensure its passage.