A-G wants Court of Appeal to rule on drug courier issue

A-G wants Court of Appeal to rule on drug courier issue

The Public Prosecutor wants Singapore's highest court to rule whether a convicted drug trafficker has to prove he was only a courier in order to be spared the gallows.

It has sought the Court of Appeal's help in the wake of an October judgment by Justice Choo Han Teck which flagged potential problems in drug trafficking trials arising from changes to the law which place the death penalty for traffickers at a judge's discretion.

Justice Choo gave two convicted traffickers the benefit of the doubt and ruled they were couriers, meaning they could be spared the gallows under the updated laws.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers had said at the time it would study the judgment before deciding on the course of action.

When delivering his decision, Justice Choo raised the issues of whether the accused in the unrelated drug trafficking cases were couriers.

Under laws that came into effect on Jan 1 this year, convicted traffickers who are judged to be primarily couriers can be sentenced to life imprisonment instead of death, if they are certified by the prosecution to have helped the Central Narcotics Bureau substantially or have a mental illness that makes them less responsible for their actions.

Justice Choo decided that Chum Tat Suan, 65, and Abdul Kahar Othman, 57, both convicted of trafficking in heroin in August, were couriers and could be spared the gallows.

However, their story is not over yet, as they will now have to give statements to the prosecution with as much information as they have.

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