Singaporean woman sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Singapore’s Supreme Court building. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

A 40-year-old Singaporean woman who claimed she was stocking up on heroin for her own use during the fasting month has failed in her bid to escape the death penalty.

Saridewi Djamani, who was charged with trafficking a total of 1kg of drugs containing 30.72g of pure heroin, also claimed she was suffering from persistent depressive disorder and severe substance use disorder.

In his grounds of decision released on Thursday (20 September), for his sentence delivered last Friday (14 September), High Court judge See Kee Oon noted that Saridewi did not deny selling heroin, methamphetamine, cannabis and Erimin from her HDB flat but sought to downplay the scale of her trafficking business.

The High Court had heard how on 17 June 2016, at about 3.35pm, Saridewi’s accomplice Muhammad Haikal Abdullah, 41, met her at the block of her flat. He passed her a plastic bag containing drugs in exchange for two envelopes containing $15,550 in total.

Unbeknownst to the duo, officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) were monitoring them. Haikal, a Malaysian, was intercepted at a traffic junction on his motorcycle shortly after he left the block.

Meanwhile, officers went to Saridewi’s flat to arrest her. Upon hearing movements outside the door, she threw plastic bags containing drugs out of her kitchen window on the 16th floor. Saridewi then let the CNB officers into her home before they could cut through the metal grille gate.

She was charged with trafficking 30.72g of heroin, while Haikal was charged with trafficking 28.22g of the drug. Under the law, those in possession of more than 2g of heroin are presumed to have the drug for trafficking, unless proven otherwise.

During the trial, Saridewi said she had wanted to keep 19.01g of heroin for her own use and sell the remaining 11.71g, claiming that it was due to the fasting month and that she predicted her heroin consumption would rise to as much as 12g a day. The death penalty applies to those who traffick more than 15g of heroin.

Haikal had testified he thought he was delivering medical drugs for pain relief or for enhancing sexual performance.

In his grounds of decision, Justice See pointed out inconsistencies in Saridewi’s claims about her rate of heroin consumption. In one statement to investigators, she said she stopped smoking heroin since her release from prison in 2014. But in court, she claimed to have relapsed and was a severe heroin addict. Her urine test after her arrest in June 2016, however, did not indicate any heroin use.

“Based on her account that she was consuming one to two straws every three days, (one of the drug exhibits) would have lasted Saridewi about 682 days… The need to stock up almost two years’ worth of supply of (heroin) was unbelievable,” said the judge.

On Saridewi’s mental state, a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health found that while she had a longstanding history of drug abuse, she did not suffer from any other mental illness or intellectual disability.

Saridewi, who was handed the mandatory death penalty, is appealing against her sentence.

Haikal was given life imprisonment with the mandatory minimum 15 strokes of the cane. He had met the two conditions giving the court the discretion not to impose the death sentence – his role was confined to that of being a courier, and he had given significant assistance to the CNB in its investigations.