Drug trafficker in S'pore becomes the first to escape death penalty

A 29 year-old involved in drug trafficking has escaped death penalty in the first capital case prosecuted on Wednesday under the amended Misuse of Drugs Act.

Abdul Haleem Abdul Karim was convicted of trafficking a Class “A” controlled drug and possessing drugs for the purposes of trafficking.

However, under the revised Act which came into effect in January, he satisfied the dual requirements of having only played the role of courier and also that he provided “substantive assistance”. Instead of capital punishment and death, he has been sentenced to life imprisonment and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

For “substantively assisted Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in disrupting drug trafficking activities” within Singapore, he received the Certificate of Cooperation by Attorney-General Steven Chong.

His partner-in-crime Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali, 27-year-old was also convicted of the same drug charges but has been sentenced to death as he did not fulfill the requirements.

Abdul Haleem and Muhammad Ridzuan were both arrested on May 6 2010, and were given two charges of having not less than 72.50 grams of diamorphine in possession for the purpose of trafficking and having in possession for the purposes of trafficking no more than 14.99 grams of diamorphine.”

Abdul Haleem “took a consistent stance” as set out in his statements and under cross-examination, and was “observed to be a truthful and straightforward witness” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Shahla Iqbal.

Singapore lawmakers amended the Misuse of Drugs Act and Penal Code to ease the mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers and homicide offences last year. 

Courts can now impose a life sentence instead if the accused is found to be "only a drug courier" and has assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in a substantive way or if he is suffering from mental impairment.

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