Drug offender spared hanging

Drug offender spared hanging

SINGAPORE - A 30-year-old Singaporean yesterday became the second convicted drug offender on death row to be spared a date with the hangman since amended drug laws took effect last year to give judges more discretion in certain capital cases when sentencing.

Subashkaran Pragasam looked relieved when he was instead given life in prison and 15 strokes of the cane in the High Court.

His reprieve follows that given to Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong, 25, who was re-sentenced last November.

Under the new laws, judges can impose life terms and caning on drug couriers who help the authorities in a substantive way - instead of handing out the mandatory death penalty.

Subashkaran had been certified by the Public Prosecutor as having substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau in the fight against drugs.

Yesterday, Justice Choo Han Teck spared him the noose after finding he had only been acting as a courier when caught with nine packets containing 186.62g of heroin.

Subashkaran's new punishment will be backdated to when he was remanded in November 2008.

He was said to have taken a box of drugs from his 10th-storey HDB flat in Tampines, and left it in a lift for an accomplice to collect at the ground floor.

Couriers are defined as those who have played relatively minor roles such as transporting or delivering drugs, and nothing else.

Subashkaran was convicted on Oct 5, 2011 of drug trafficking and condemned to hang.

His appeal against his conviction was turned down in March last year.

After the new laws took effect in January last year, his lawyers applied for a re-sentencing.

With the changes, drug couriers who have helped the authorities and are given life imprisonment instead of the death penalty must be sentenced to at least 15 strokes of the cane.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said there are currently 24 persons sentenced to death for drug offences who can apply to be re-sentenced.

It will review every application for re-sentencing under the new regime, said an AGC spokesman.

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