Indian-origin man in Singapore acquitted after getting death penalty via Zoom

Published on Oct 31, 2022 04:48 PM IST

Singapore's highest court of appeals acquitted Punithan Genasan of one count of trafficking drug by introducing two drug couriers to each other at a car parking here in October 2011, Channel News Asia reported.

Punithan Genasan was sentenced to death in May 2020, the first capital punishment given in Singapore during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Representation purpose)(REUTERS)
Punithan Genasan was sentenced to death in May 2020, the first capital punishment given in Singapore during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Representation purpose)(REUTERS)
PTI | | Posted by Sharangee Dutta

A 39-year-old Indian-origin Malaysian who was sentenced to death via Zoom for drug trafficking in May 2020 was on Monday acquitted by Singapore's Court of Appeal, saying the prosecution did not prove its case.

Singapore's highest court of appeals acquitted Punithan Genasan of one count of trafficking drug by introducing two drug couriers to each other at a car parking here in October 2011, Channel News Asia reported.

Genasan was sentenced to death in May 2020, the first capital punishment given in Singapore during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was implicated in the case when one of the drug couriers, alleged that Genasan was the mastermind behind a drug transaction for which the drug couriers were arrested by Central Narcotics Bureau officers on October 28, 2011.

The two were in possession of granular substances containing at least 28.5g of diamorphine or pure heroin. Illegal traffic, import or export of diamorphine of more than 15 grams is punishable by death under Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau website.

In the trial for which the judgement was released on Monday, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a meeting between Genasan and the two drug couriers transpired before the actual drug transaction took place.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Justices Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang said there were discrepancies in the evidence regarding the date and time of the supposed meeting at the trial.

Justice Tay, who delivered the verdict on behalf of the three-judge panel, added that the meeting was a "pivotal element" in the charge against Genasan.

Citing the "unique circumstances of this case", he said the charge was not proven beyond reasonable doubt as it was uncertain whether the meeting took place.

Justice Tay stressed that decision in this appeal was focused on the meeting and had no effect whatsoever on the conviction and appeals of the couriers, who were found to be in possession of the drugs and in the process of distributing them.

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