Court of Appeal dismisses last-ditch efforts of two drug traffickers to escape death sentence

The drug traffickers' lawyer had filed a criminal motion, asking the Court of Appeal to review its 2018 decision on the death sentences. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal has dismissed two separate eleventh-hour attempts by a pair of drug traffickers, who were scheduled to hang on Wednesday (Feb 16), to escape their executions.

Singaporean Roslan Bakar, 51, and Malaysian Pausi Jefridin, 37, were sentenced to death in 2010 and have unsuccessfully challenged the capital punishment over the years.

Two days before their scheduled execution, their lawyer, Mr Charles Yeo, filed a criminal motion, asking the Court of Appeal to review its 2018 decision on the death sentences.

The motion was heard and dismissed by a three-judge apex court on Tuesday (Feb 15).

Mr Yeo then filed an application to the High Court seeking to start judicial review proceedings to declare that the death sentences were unconstitutional.

This was heard and dismissed by the High Court on Wednesday morning (Feb 16) but a temporary stay of execution was granted pending appeal.

The appeal was then heard by a three-judge apex court on Wednesday afternoon and dismissed. In both bids, Mr Yeo contended that Roslan and Pausi were intellectually disabled - an issue previously raised by the pair but was rejected by the High Court in 2017 and by the Court of Appeal in 2018.

Citing a previous judgment in written submissions, Senior State Counsel Francis Ng said: “It does not benefit anyone - not accused persons, not their families nor society at large - for there to be an endless inquiry with the same raised hopes and dashed expectations that accompany each such fruitless endeavour.”

Roslan and Pausi were charged with trafficking in not less than 96.07g of heroin on June 14, 2008.

After a 15-day trial, on April 22, 2010, they were convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, which was then mandatory for offences involving more than 15g of heroin.

Their appeals were heard and dismissed on March 17, 2011.

On Jan 30, 2015, Roslan filed an application seeking a retrial. This was dismissed on Nov 30 that year.

In June 2016, Roslan and Pausi applied to be given life imprisonment, after the law was changed to allow judges to impose the alternative sentence if specific conditions are met.

Both men argued that they were suffering from an abnormality of mind.

A defence psychiatrist had assessed Pausi's IQ to be at 67, while another psychiatrist assessed that Roslan has borderline intelligence.

But in a judgment on Nov 13, 2017, the High Court found that both men "displayed competence and comprehension of what they were doing" when they committed the offences.

The men's conduct and their own testimonies showed that they were "functioning in ways no different from people with higher IQ level in relation to the drug offences", said the court.

"Significantly, Roslan was the central figure in the drug transaction. He directed the actions of the others involved and orchestrated its moving parts," said the court.

"Pausi was able to deliver the drugs from outside Singapore and participated in the operation with little difficulty... A low IQ level alone is not evidence of an abnormality of mind."

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