Man gets death penalty for trafficking heroin

A 59-year-old man was sentenced to death in the High Court after being found in possession of 52.75 g of diamorphine, also known as heroin, for the purpose of drug trafficking.

Justice Aedit Abdullah, in judgment grounds issued on Monday, held that the case against Sulaiman Jumari had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

He found that Sulaiman had control over the room where he had been arrested and no one else would have had access to it, and the elements of the charge had been made out by the prosecution.

Sulaiman had been nabbed by Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers while alone in a rented room in Lorong 39 Geylang on June 23, 2016. The drugs, contained in 22 packets, were recovered from a wardrobe, a bedside table and a bed in the room.

At issue were three packets containing 49.86g of heroin inside a wardrobe drawer that did not have his DNA on them, unlike other exhibits. Sulaiman did not dispute possession of the other packets containing 2.89g of heroin recovered from the bedside table. But he claimed he did not know the three packets with 49.86g of heroin were in his room.

The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty if the amount trafficked exceeds 15g.

He said other people had access to the room, including on the day he was arrested, and the packets could have been placed in the wardrobe drawer without his knowledge.

His defence lawyers, led by Mr Anand Nalachandran, further argued that the statement he gave at the time of his arrest should not be admitted, or it should be given minimal weight, alleging that Sulaiman had been induced to give it.

 
 
 
 

But the prosecution led by Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang said Sulaiman had admitted clearly, in the statement he gave shortly after the drugs were discovered in his room, that the drugs in the three packets belonged to him, and he knew they contained heroin and were meant both for smoking and for sale.

Among other things, when asked by CNB officers if he had anything to surrender as he was placed under arrest, Sulaiman said "three" and gestured at the wardrobe. A search revealed the three packets.

The prosecution noted the drug trafficking paraphernalia found together with the quantity of drugs showed he meant to sell drugs.

Justice Aedit said no evidence was presented during the 11-day trial to support Sulaiman's version that the packets had been put in the wardrobe by someone else.

"For someone to have left the (three packets) there without his knowing of it was beyond any reasonable belief," said the judge.

He also found that Sulaiman's statement at the time of arrest was not given as a result of any inducement or any adverse conditions.

Sulaiman, having been convicted, faces the death penalty unless he was a courier who had given substantive help to the authorities or was found to have mental abnormalities. "As the accused was found to have had the drugs for sale, he did not qualify for the alternative sentencing regime, and accordingly the death sentence was passed against him," said Justice Aedit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'Man gets death penalty for drug trafficking'. Print Edition | Subscribe