Singapore: A 37-year old Malaysian man accused of masterminding a 2011 heroin transaction was sentenced to death over a Zoom call in Singapore on Friday, 15 May 2020. The judge gave the verdict to the case Public Prosecutor v. PunithanGaneshanthrough online hearing as a measure to curb the Coronavirus spread and considering the safety of those involved in the court proceedings. This is reportedly the second remote death sentencing after a case in Nigeria.
Singapore has stringent narcotic laws and zero tolerance policy in this regard. The city-state has hanged many, including foreign nationals for indulging in illegal drug dealings. However, this is the first time that the country is resorting to online means to sentence a man to death. Most of the courts have adjourned their cases due to the lockdown implemented in the country since April. Regardless, urgent hearings are conducted remotely.
Several human right activists has disapproved the judgment on the ground that Singapore judiciary has always been “inherently cruel and inhuman” while pronouncing capital punishments. It makes the already merciless act even more ruthless whendecided and pronounced through platforms like Zoom, claim human rights advocates.
However, the lawyer for the convict – Mr. Peter Fernando did not challenge the court’s decision to conduct a remote hearing on Friday. He said that only the verdict remained to be pronounced and that there were no arguments or points to be made to the Court. Fernando made it clear that the judge was perfectly audible while giving the verdict. Nevertheless, his client will be moving an appeal against the decision.