Apex court dismisses drug trafficker's challenge against scheduling of his execution

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Syed Suhail Syed Zin, who tried unsuccessfully to introduce a new point in his bid to delay his impending execution. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A convicted drug trafficker who challenged the scheduling of his execution lost his case before the Court of Appeal on Tuesday (Aug 10).

The three-judge court dismissed an appeal by Syed Suhail Syed Zin, 45, who abandoned his initial argument and tried unsuccessfully to introduce a new point in his bid to delay his impending execution.

In a case filed in November last year, Suhail argued that the scheduling of his execution ahead of two other inmates who had been sentenced to death before him was a breach of his constitutional right to equality before the law.

He also alleged that he was discriminated against as a Singaporean because he was scheduled to be hanged ahead of a Malaysian drug trafficker, who was sentenced to death before him.

In February, a High Court judge dismissed his case.

Justice See Kee Oon said Suhail and the two other inmates were "not in the same boat". Unlike Suhail, they had further legal recourse for their cases to be reviewed and potentially reopened.

Justice See also said Suhail's arguments on nationality were "bare assertions based on pure conjecture and surmise".

At Suhail's appeal on Tuesday, his lawyer M. Ravi abandoned the nationality argument.

Instead, Mr Ravi tried to introduce four additional cases of death-row prisoners to support his appeal.

Senior State Counsel Francis Ng, for the Attorney-General, said in written submissions that Suhail should not be allowed to raise a new point that was not argued before the High Court.

He argued that this was a "blatant abuse of the appeal process".

This was particularly so, given that the apex court had earlier told Suhail to "produce in the High Court the entirety of the evidence he wished to rely on" and warned parties against "drip-feeding" of evidence, said Mr Ng.

He urged the court to dismiss the attempt to introduce the new point as well as the appeal.

Suhail was given the mandatory death penalty on Dec 2, 2015, for trafficking 38.84g of heroin. His appeal was dismissed and his petition for clemency was rejected.

On Sept 11 last year, he was told that he would be hanged on Sept 18. Mr Ravi then applied for permission from the High Court for judicial review of the decision to schedule his execution.

On Oct 23, the Court of Appeal allowed Suhail to argue his case on the scheduling of executions. He then filed the current case on Nov 6.

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