Two on death row for murder to be resentenced
By Neo Chai Chin – 01 May 2013
SINGAPORE — Two men on death row for murder had their cases sent back to the High Court for resentencing yesterday — the first since the law was amended to give judges sentencing discretion in some murder cases.
Both men are foreign nationals whose appeals had been dismissed by the Court of Appeal before Parliament passed amendments to the Penal Code last November. Previously, the death penalty was mandatory for all murder cases.
Indian national Gopinathan Nair Remadevi Bijukumar’s case was heard first yesterday afternoon. The prosecution did not object when his lawyer Shashi Nathan sought for his matter to be heard again before a trial judge.
Gopinathan, 37, a former shipyard worker, was found guilty of murdering Filipino prostitute Roselyn Reyes Pascua. She was found dead in her rented room in Peony Mansion in Bencoolen Street in March 2010.
Gopinathan claimed he had stabbed her after she attacked him and refused to return money he had paid her for sexual services.
The second case was that of Sarawakian Jabing Kho, 26, who robbed Chinese construction worker Cao Ruyin with an accomplice in February 2008.
Jabing hit Cao with a piece of wood. Cao suffered 14 skull fractures and died six days later. Jabing’s accomplice, fellow Sarawakian Galing Kujat, was originally sentenced to death but the Court of Appeal found him not guilty of murder in 2011, saying he did not share Jabing’s intention to kill.
The trial judges will now have discretion to impose either the death penalty or life imprisonment when resentencing the men.
The amended Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act came into effect this year, removing the mandatory death penalty for certain types of homicide and drug trafficking offences in a move to “temper justice with mercy”.
Earlier this month, drug trafficker Abdul Haleem Abdul Karim escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane after he satisfied the conditions of having only played the role of courier, and of providing “substantive assistance” to the Central Narcotics Bureau in disrupting drug trafficking activities.