The case of Cheong Chun Yin – Let’s hope for a re-trial

Case in brief:

Cheong Chun Yin arrived in Singapore’s Changi Airport from Burma on 16 June 2008, carrying a black suitcase, thinking that it contained gold bars. He handed the bag over to a woman at the airport.

Chun Yin was later arrested after alighting from a taxi in Arab Street. He was then taken to a flat where the suitcase was found. The contents within the suitcase turned out to be 2.7 kg of heroin, instead of the gold bars he was supposed to be smuggling for his friend who wanted to evade tax.

During his interrogation, Chun Yin gave the investigating officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) the name, physical description and phone numbers of his contact, a man who had gone by the name of Lau De. However, the CNB did not make any effort to investigate.

He was then convicted and sentenced to death under the Mandatory Death Penalty stipulated in the Misuse of Drugs Act by High Court Judge Choo Han Teck on 4 February 2010. In his written judgement, Judge Choo stated “I did not find his [Cheong] testimony convincing and I was of the view that his evidence did not create any reasonable doubt in my mind that he might not have known that he was carrying heroin.”

Judge Choo added, “It was immaterial that the CNB did not make adequate efforts to trace Lau De or check on his cell-phones. The absence of any trace of Lau De was not taken as evidence in favour of or against either accused.” [Judgment]

The burning questions:

Death is not reversible and once hanged, any previously convicted criminals found innocent post-sentence, cannot be brought to life. With this in mind, no leads given by alleged criminals should be left uninvestigated.

In the case of Chun Yin, details of his ‘friend’ were given to the investigating officers. Shouldn’t efforts be made to track down Lau De, who might be part of a larger syndicate?

Since such an important lead was not being followed up, can we consider the investigations thorough enough for a charge that carries the death sentence?

Criminal Motion to be heard

Come October 15, 10 am, lawyer M Ravi’s application for Chun Yin’s case to be re-opened will be heard at Singapore’s Court of Appeal.

All leads must not be taken lightly for a sentence so heavy and irreversible. Chun Yin deserves a re-trial and we at the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) are hoping for the best.

Good luck Ravi and Chun Yin!