Malaysian on death row in Singapore acquitted after appeal with new evidence
SINGAPORE ,. The Singapore Court of Appeal has acquitted a Malaysian G. Punithan who was sentenced to death for trafficking 28.5g of diamorphine to the republic, after considering new evidence.
Punithan had been sentenced to death in May 2020, the first to be given the penalty during the Covid-19 pandemic via remote hearing.
In the course of investigations, he was identified by one of two drug couriers as the mastermind behind the drug transaction that took place on October 28, 2011.
Before that, Punithan had on October 12, 2011 introduced the two couriers to facilitate an impending drug transaction, at the West Coast McDonald’s carpark.
“In this appeal, we were not concerned about the events that took place on October 28, 2011 in relation to the couriers,” said Justice Tay Yong Kwang who delivered the grounds of the decision of the court.
The full judgment was released on the court’s website yesterday.
Besides Justice Tay, the case was heard before Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Justice Andrew Phang.
“The central question in this appeal was whether there was such a tripartite meeting on October 12, 2011 because that was the link alleged between the appellant and the drug transaction involving the couriers that took place on October 28, 2011.
“The prosecution alleged that it was ‘pursuant to this meeting’ that the couriers carried out the said drug transaction.
“It was therefore incumbent on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the ‘alleged introductory meeting’ did take place in order to prove the common intention of the appellant and the couriers to traffic in the drugs,” said the judge.
According to the judge, there were discrepancies in evidence as to the date and the time of day of the “alleged introductory meeting” at the previous 2014 trial and the 2018 trial.
Punithan adduced fresh evidence including investigation statements from the couriers, a telco call trace report for one of the courier’s phone, and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) travel movement records of one of the couriers.
Punithan was represented by a team of lawyers from K&L Gates Straits Law LLC, led by Senior Counsel Narayanan Sreenivasan.