A Singaporean man, who allegedly imported one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of marijuana from Malaysia to Singapore three years ago, is set to be hanged after the Apex Court dismissed his appeal on Tuesday.
Death penalty: Omar Yacob Bamadhaj, 41, was arrested at a routine check at Woodlands Checkpoint on July 12, 2018 for possessing three bundles of cannabis. He was sentenced to death in February, reported Channel News Asia.
- In a statement on Tuesday, his lawyer, Hassan Esa Almenoar, said there was “reasonable doubt” as to whether Bamadhaj deliberately committed the crime, adding it was “difficult to conclude that he planned all this.”
- “By dismissing Omar Yacob Bamadhaj’s appeal, the Singapore authorities have violated international safeguards and sentenced yet another person convicted of drug trafficking to death by hanging,” Amnesty International’s death penalty advisor Chiara Sangiorgio said in a statement, according to Vice.
What happened: Bamadhaj was arrested in his car with his father behind the steering wheel. During the routine check, he explained to the police that the three bundles found in his vehicle were “plants for herbs.”
- The prosecution argued that he had ordered the marijuana on July 10 and picked it up in a mosque in Malaysia the day after. Bamadhaj then went to Malaysia with his father on July 11 to buy groceries and to pray at a local mosque.
- He later dropped his father off to run some errands, where he reportedly met two acquaintances, identified as Din and Latif, at a car wash. They asked him to transport the bundles of marijuana into Singapore for 500 Singapore dollars ($370) apiece.
- However, Bamadhaj allegedly knew the “green” was marijuana when he spoke to the police during his arrest. The report also said he was unsure for 20 minutes before he accepted the deal to transport the drugs to Singapore.
- Bamadhaj’s defense denied the allegations, saying that he was unaware of the bundles’ contents at the time, adding that Din and Latif had placed the packages in his bags without him knowing.
- Bamadhaj said the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) allegedly coerced him into admission, saying an officer told him that if he refused to admit to the crime, the authorities would hang both him and his father.
- Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said he pulled out from the admission five days later. When questioned why there were differences in his accounts, Bamadhaj said, “I said that because I was not at the right state of mind. I was feeling high from the stick I had smoked with Din. High to me is like being semi-conscious.”
Death penalty: Over the years, Singapore has hanged many people — including dozens of foreigners — for violating its zero-tolerance policy for illicit drugs, such as marijuana.
- While human rights groups have long criticized the city-state’s government for the death penalty, some citizens believe the punishment could still deter drug trafficking and help keep the crime rate low.
- “Singapore’s heavy reliance on draconian laws and policies have not only failed to tackle the use and availability of drugs, they also give zero effective protection from drug-related harm and instead facilitate a raft of human rights violations,” Sangiorgio said.