Pair on death row may escape gallows

Pair on death row may escape gallows
Mr Yong Yun Leong, an older brother of convicted Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong, presenting a petition to a policeman at the Istana on 24 August 2010. The petition calls on President S R Nathan to spare Yong's life, after he was found guilty of trafficking heroin and sentenced to death in 2008.

SINGAPORE - Death-row inmate Yong Vui Kong has been given fresh hope in the latest twist to his long- running court bid to avoid the gallows.

The 25-year-old Malaysian - who was condemned to hang in 2008 - will be receiving a certificate from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to say he had helped the authorities here disrupt drug-trafficking activities.

This could allow him to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison, as long as he can prove that he had played only the role of courier in the case.

The development follows changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act that were passed in Parliament last November and kicked in this year. The new laws give judges the discretion to impose life sentences and caning on couriers who "substantively assist" the authorities, namely the Central Narcotics Bureau, in the fight against drugs.

Yong's case became a cause celebre for human rights activists after he was condemned to hang for bringing a paper bag containing 47.27g of heroin into Singapore at the age of 19.

His legal team has since made a string of unsuccessful attempts to overturn his death sentence, including a constitutional challenge against capital punishment and a judicial review of the clemency process.

On Wednesday, the AGC said it will issue the certificate to Yong and another convicted drug trafficker, Subashkaran Pragasam, 29. Subashkaran was condemned to hang last October after being caught with nine packets containing 186.62g of heroin.

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