Nationality is not a factor considered in the scheduling of executions, counsel from the Attorney-General's Chambers said yesterday, in the case of a convicted Singaporean drug trafficker who is challenging a decision by the authorities to carry out his hanging ahead of other death-row inmates.
Syed Suhail Syed Zin, 44, who is represented by lawyer M. Ravi, alleged that there was discrimination based on nationality because he was scheduled to be hanged ahead of Malaysian drug trafficker Datchinamurthy Kataiah, who was given the death sentence before him.
Yesterday, Senior State Counsel Francis Ng told the High Court Datchinamurthy's execution had not been scheduled because he was affected by a separate case that was pending a decision by the Court of Appeal. In that case, Malaysian drug runner Gobi Avedian, who is also represented by Mr Ravi, escaped the gallows on Oct 19 after he succeeded in getting the apex court to review his conviction.
Mr Ng said Suhail's belief that foreigners and Singaporeans were being treated differently was "unfounded" and Mr Ravi's allegations that the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) was biased against Singaporeans was "empty rhetoric".
Justice See Kee Oon will give his decision on Suhail's application for judicial review at a later date.
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 this 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 SPS decision on the scheduling of his execution.
Yesterday, Mr Ravi mentioned a death-row inmate, Singaporean Masoud Rahimi Mehrzad, in arguing that Suhail was scheduled to be hanged ahead of those sentenced before him. Mr Ng said scheduling was carried out in a "principled and rational manner" and there were good reasons why the executions of Datchinamurthy and Masoud were not scheduled ahead of Suhail's.