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No longer on death row: Conviction overturned for Malaysian found guilty of drug trafficking in 2016

The judges said that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Beh Chew Boo, 38, knew he was carrying methamphetamines on his motorbike when he came to Singapore

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Singapore—After spending four years in jail and being given the death sentence in January by the High Court, a Malaysian national’s conviction for drug trafficking has been overturned, which means he is no longer on death row.

The Apex court judges in his case said on Tuesday (Oct 13), that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Beh Chew Boo, 38, knew he was carrying methamphetamines on his motorbike when he came to Singapore.

Mr Beh had been accused of smuggling at least 499 grams of methamphetamines into Singapore in 2016. However, his fingerprints had not been found on the packets of drugs.

What investigators found instead were the fingerprints of Lew Shyang Huei, Mr Beh’s friend, who owned the motorbike he drove to Singapore on the day he was apprehended. In his version of what transpired, Mr Beh called Mr Lew his “very good friend” who had let him borrow his motorcycle on numerous occasions in the past.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and appeal judges Tay Yong Kwang and Steven Chong expressed disapproval at the decision from the prosecution to not call on Mr Lew to testify in Mr Beh’s case. As they said that they found Mr Beh’s version of what occurred to be “not inherently incredible,” the judges wrote in their ruling that the prosecutors failed to discharge their duties by not calling on Mr Lew, despite his being “readily available to testify.”

Mr Beh was with his former girlfriend, Ting Swee Ling, when he was stopped in Oct 26, 2016, at around 5:20 am at the Woodlands Checkpoint. He claimed that he had only gone to Singapore to hand over a power bank to a friend.

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However, when his motorbike was searched, police discovered the drugs in a blue plastic bag kept in the seat’s storage compartment.

Mr Beh claimed to have no knowledge of the drugs.

Mr Lew is currently imprisoned in Singapore for bringing in drugs and drug paraphernalia, having been arrested in 2018. He is serving a seven-year jail term.

Mr Beh will continue to stay in prison while awaiting the court’s decision on four other charges connected to his case. These charges have been temporarily stood down. —/TISG

Read also: Is it time for the death penalty to be abolished?

Is it time for the death penalty to be abolished?

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