Singapore court sentences Malaysian man to death on Zoom call


Singapore – A judge in Singapore has sentenced a man to death via a Zoom video-call for his role in a drug deal, one of just two known cases where a capital punishment verdict has been delivered remotely.

On Friday, 37-year-old Malaysian, Punithan Genasan was told he would be hand for masterminding a 2011 heroin transaction, court documents showed, as the country was under lockdown to try and curb the spread of coronavirus.

“For the safety of all involved in the proceedings, the hearing for Public Prosecutor vs Punithan A/K Genasan was conducted by video-conferencing,” said a spokesperson for Singapore’s Supreme Courtin response to questions by media, citing restrictions imposed to minimise virus spread.

This was the first criminal case where a death sentence was pronounced by remote hearing in Singapore, added the spokesperson

Rights groups have, however, criticised the use of video-calls for capital punishment verdicts, including a case in Nigeria earlier this month which criminal justice watchdog Fair Trials was the first death sentence to be delivered remotely.

Peter Fernando, Genasan’s lawyer, said he did not object to Friday’s judgment being delivered on Zoom, saying that the judge could be heard clearly and as it was the verdict no other legal arguments were presented. However, he said, his client is considering an appeal against the verdict.

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