Death sentence remotely delivered in Singapore

AFP via Getty Images

Last week, his defence was rejected by Singapore's Supreme Court, which promptly delivered the death penalty to Genasan over a Zoom video call.

Punithan Genasan, a 37-hear-old Malaysian national, was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly introducing two drug dealers to each other in 2011.

The vast majority of criminal court cases in Singapore have been adjourned throughout the course of the strict lockdown orders, which are due to expire on June 1st at the moment.

"In line with measures to minimise the further spread of the COVID-19, the courts have been conducting hearings, including hearings on criminal matters remotely", the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson for the Supreme Court said that the siting in the case, Public Prosecutor v Punithan A/L Genasan, was conducted by video-conferencing to ensure the safety of all involved in the proceedings. It is believed to be the first instance in which remote communications technology was used to deliver a death sentence in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Genasan's lawyer, Peter Fernando, revealed that he did not object to the use of Zoom in his client's case since it was only to receive the judge's verdict. Singapore now has 29,364 confirmed cases, with 22 coronavirus-related deaths. Numerous instances are drug-related.

Town-state imposed a partial lockdown in early April after it was hit by a second wave of virus infections sparked by overseas employees residing in crowded dormitories. It plans to step by step carry restrictions subsequent month.

Human rights campaigners have long argued that the process is too secretive, and say that executions disproportionately target low-level drug mules, while doing little to stop the flow of drugs into the country. However, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, did not echo this sentiment.

Human Rights Watch said the death penalty is already cruel and inhumane, and the use of Zoom to announce it made it worse.

And Amnesty International issued a statement as well, saying that the death sentence of the Malaysian national is a "reminder that Singapore continues to defy international law and standards by imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking".

Hameed had pleaded not guilty to killing 76-year-old Jolasun Okunsanya in December 2018.

Singapore has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs, and is one of only four countries that still executes people for the offences.

"At a time when the worldwide consideration is targeted on saving and defending lives in a pandemic, the pursuit of the dying penalty is all of the extra abhorrent", Sangiorgio mentioned.



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