During a 16-day joint trial held for three men convicted of trafficking 26.29g of heroin into Singapore, two have been sentenced to death, and one to the life sentence.
According to The Straits Times, Hamzah Ibrahim, 54, was certified by the Public Prosecutor (PP) to have “substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore”.
Nonetheless, he still given the death penalty.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, the court has the discretion not to impose the death penalty if the convicted offender is a courier and has been issued a certificate by the PP stating that he had cooperated with authorities.
Defended by lawyers Luke Lee and Sukdave Singh, Hamzah had asserted that he was merely a courier.
However, Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng ruled that Hamzah’s role “went beyond that of a courier”.
“It was evident that Hamzah’s purpose after taking delivery of the drugs was to sell the drugs,” she said, referring to him bringing along smaller empty plastic packets to repack the drugs for sale.
“Hence, although the PP issued a certificate of substantive assistance, the alternative sentencing regime was not available,” she stated.
Another man in the joint trial, Muhammad Farid Sudi, was also certified by the PP.
The Straits Times reported that Farid, who delivered the drugs to Hamzah and acted as no more than a courier, left the trial with a life sentence and 15 strokes of the cane.
The last accomplice, Tika Pesik, was not certified as a courier and hence sentenced to death.
Farid and Tika had arranged for the former to deliver two packets of heroin to Hamzah on Dec 20, 2013.
The judge found that Tika could “not in any way be described as a courier”, as she had coordinated the supply of drugs and gotten Farid to deliver the drugs to Hamzah.
“Moreover, the PP did not issue Tika with a certificate of substantive assistance,” the judge added.
Court ruling contradicts issuance of certificate by PP
On Hamzah’s situation, international human rights lawyer M Ravi noted that the pre-requisites for the issuance of the Certificate of Cooperation includes establishing the role of the trafficker as a courier, as well as gaining substantial assistance from the trafficker for CNB to disrupt drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore.
This means that the PP already had to determine the fact that Hamzah was only a courier before issuing him the certificate. Despite this, the court later contradicted this pre-requisite and ruled that he was more than just a courier.
Mr Ravi told The Independent:
“This situation is so contradictory that it defeats the whole point of the Certificate of Cooperation. This sort of situation opens itself for a potential miscarriage of justice, and a bystander looking at this will come to a conclusion that there is a serious flaw in the administration of justice.”
“It’s basically a very superfluous exercise, given the fact that the Attorney-General (AG) already had to consider this requirement,” he said, adding that it would be more appropriate for the decision of the trafficker’s role to rest solely on the AG’s shoulders.