Malaysian drug trafficker escapes death penalty under amended laws

SINGAPORE - A 29-year-old Malaysian condemned to hang in 2009 for drug trafficking had his death sentence commuted on Tuesday to life imprisonment as he was intellectually challenged and suffering from depression at the time.

Wilkinson Primus, who looked relaxed in court, was spared the gallows under amended laws that give judges the discretion to impose life terms on drug traffickers who suffer from an "abnormality of mind" that substantially reduce their mental responsibility for their acts.

He was riding a motorcycle into Singapore on Nov 3, 2008 when he was arrested at the Woodlands Checkpoint. A bundle in the basket of the motorcycle was later analysed to contain 35.66g of heroin.

Wilkinson was given the then-mandatory death penalty in 2009 after he was convicted of drug trafficking.

Earlier this year, his lawyers applied for him to be re-sentenced under the amended laws, relying on psychiatric reports that he was suffering from major depressive disorder and was "performing at an extremely low level of intellectual functioning" at the time.

The prosecution did not object to the application.