A misty eyed Chan King Yu after his release in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The country’s highest court overturned his death sentence for drug trafficking

A British national sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Malaysia has been freed after the country’s highest court found police fabricated evidence against him.

A three-judge panel at the Federal Court of Appeal released Chan Kin Yu, who was arrested eight years ago after police claimed to have found 9kg of methamphetamines in his Kuala Lumpur hotel room.

Mr Chan, 37, a truck driver and part-time bartender, removed his handcuffs before telling reporters: “I’m happy. I don’t know what to say. I just want to go back home fast. I stayed here so long.”

Mr Chan is from Hong Kong and holds a British passport.

He was sentenced to death by the High Court in 2002 after his arrest during a business trip. He has always maintained his innocence.

Judge Hashim Yusoff told the court: “I’m of the view … there is a clear fabrication of evidence.”

Mr Chan’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, argued that police framed his client by breaking into his room and planting three cylinders containing the drug.

The court ruled Mr Chan should be acquitted as it was unclear whether he knew the metamphetamines were in his room.

The judges also said previous court decisions failed to take into account discrepancies in witness testimony. They said unlawful hearsay should not have been allowed as evidence.

After the acquittal, police refused to comment.