A Singapore court has acquitted an India-origin Malaysian, who was sentenced to death via Zoom in a drug trafficking case in 2020, saying the prosecution did not prove its case.
Punithan Genasan, 39, was acquitted of one count of trafficking 28.5 gm diamorphine by introducing two drug couriers to each other at West Coast McDonald’s car parking in October 2011, Channel News Asia reported.
He was implicated when the two couriers, who were arrested on October 28, 2011, alleged that Genasan was the mastermind who coordinated the drug transaction.
The prosecution failed to prove that Genasan’s meeting to introduce the couriers to each other took place before the drug dealing.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Justices Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang said there were discrepancies in the evidence regarding the date and time of the supposed meeting at the trial.
Citing the “unique circumstances of this case”, Justice Kwang said that the charge was not proven beyond reasonable doubt as it was uncertain whether the meeting took place.
Justice Kwang, who delivered the verdict on behalf of the three-judge panel, said the decision in the appeal was focused on the meeting and had no effect whatsoever on the conviction and appeals of the couriers, who were found to be in possession of the drugs and in the process of distributing them.
Of the two couriers, one was sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane, while the other was sentenced to death.
Genasan’s was the first criminal case where a death sentence was pronounced by remote hearing in Singapore.
Diamorphine, or pure heroin, produces drowsiness, euphoria and a sense of detachment, according to narcotics experts. It is highly addictive and has been banned in most countries.
Singapore has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs, and according to rights groups, has hanged hundreds of people for narcotics-related offences over past decades.
Two persons were executed in the country for drug-related charges in 2019, while two others were hanged after being convicted of murder, according to Amnesty International.
Countries with recorded executions for drug-related offences include China (which classifies figures as a state secret), Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Singapore.