Three convicted drug traffickers have escaped the death penalty in a country where death is the mandatory sentence for smuggling 15g of heroin. This happened after prosecutors lessened the charges against them.
The men – Malaysians Lim Chan Pung and Tai Kang Seng, as well as Singaporean Chia Teck Khoon- were caught with 18.4g of the drug, after the Central Narcortics Bureau (CNB) was tipped off.
Officers uncovered the heroin inside a briefcase when they raided Chia’s flat. They also apprehended Lim and Tai before they left Singapore for Johor. Chia and Tai were couriers of the substance, which they had delivered to Chia, after SGD$4, 250 was paid to drug dealer in Johor.
The lawyers for the trio told local paper, The Straits Times, a possible reason for the reduced charges-the amount of heroin seized was only 3.4g beyond the 15g threshold.
Lim’s lawyer A. Alagappan said, "The prosecution may have felt it was too small an amount to demand the hanging of three men."
Another speculation is the young age of two of the convicts. Lim is 22 and Tai 25. Justice Woo Bih Li reminded them, "you have been foolish to have been involved in the drug trade. You should also realise how fortunate you are not to face a capital charge."
All three peaded guilty to the reduced charges. The Malaysians to trafficking 14.99g of heroin and Chia to possession.
Lim and Tai are imprisoned the minimum sentence of 20 years and 15 strokes of the cane, and Chia is incarcerated for 23 years caned 15 strokes.
Despite Singapore being known internationally for being tough on crime and for being one of few developed countries still carrying out executions on criminals, legal obeservers insist the such decisions are not unheard of.