Drug trafficker escapes death sentence under amended Misuse of Drugs Act

SINGAPORE: A 29-year-old man has escaped the gallows for drug trafficking as he satisfied the twin requirements for the discretionary death sentence, in the first capital case prosecuted under the amended Misuse of Drugs Act which came into effect in January.

His co-accused, 27-year-old Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali, who was convicted of the same charges, was sentenced to death as he did not fulfil the requirements.

Abdul Haleem Abdul Karim was convicted of trafficking in a Class ‘A’ controlled drug – which carries the mandatory death penalty – and possessing drugs for the purposes of trafficking.

However, Justice Tay Yong Kwang ruled that Abdul Haleem satisfied the condition of having only played the role of courier, and the condition of providing “substantive assistance”. Justice Tay eventually sentenced him to life imprisonment and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

Abdul Haleem has been issued with a Certificate of Cooperation by Attorney-General Steven Chong stating that he had “substantively assisted CNB in disrupting drug trafficking activities” within Singapore.

An Attorney-General Chambers spokesperson said: “As DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) Teo highlighted in Parliament, the certificate mechanism was developed with a view to assisting in Singapore’s broader enforcement efforts and to keep drugs out of Singapore.

“The information provided may assist to dismantle drug syndicates or facilitate the arrest or prosecution of syndicate members, particularly members higher up in such syndicates.”

The spokesperson added that there are ongoing cases involving offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act before the court for which the certificate “may be relevant”.

“Whether a certificate would be issued will be assessed on the facts of each case and whether the individual concerned has ‘substantively assisted’ in disrupting drug trafficking activities in Singapore or elsewhere,” the spokesperson said.

The Misuse of Drugs Act was amended in 2012 together with the Penal Code to remove the mandatory death penalty for certain types of homicide and drug trafficking offences, in a move to “temper justice with mercy”.

Apart from meeting the condition of being only a courier, a drug trafficker must either have cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau in a substantive way, or have a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act.

Abdul Haleem and Muhammad Ridzuan were arrested on May 6 2010, and were charged with having not less than 72.50 grams of diamorphine in possession for the purpose of trafficking and having in possession for the purposes of trafficking no more than 14.99 grams of diamorphine.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Shahla Iqbal noted that Abdul Haleem “took a consistent stance” as set out in his statements and under cross-examinations, and was “observed to be a truthful and straightforward witness”.


Source: Channel News Asia