Singapore man sentenced to death on Zoom call due to coronavirus pandemic

Cheryl Sanders
May 22, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, software company Zoom Communications has had its video conferencing services tapped by various industries across the world that are trying to adjust to remote work, and now, thanks to officials in Singapore, the tech has been used to hand down a death sentence.

37-year-old Malaysian man Punithan Genasan was received his death sentence remotely, in a first for Singapore, for his role in a 2011 heroin deal, according to court documents.

Many court hearings in Singapore have been adjourned during a lockdown period that started in early April and is due to run until June 1, while cases deemed essential have been held remotely.

Death penalty
Countries with recorded executions for drug-related offences include China Iran Saudi Arabia Indonesia and Singapore

Answering to the queries of Reuters the spokesperson of Singapore's Supreme Court said that it all for the safety of the involved in the proceeding.

Amnesty International's death penalty advisor Chiara Sangiorgio did respond to all this stating, "Whether via Zoom or in person, a death sentence is always cruel and inhumane".

Genasan's lawyer Peter Fernando said his client was considering an appeal. His sentence was made remotely because the country is now under lockdown as it has one of the highest coronavirus rates in Asia. "We have no complaints", Fernando said yesterday. It has defended capital punishment as a deterrent for the most serious crimes.

They allege that most of the drug cases hearings in Singapore remain opaque and big shots in the business are never brought to justice, only small drug peddlers are targetted. It plans to gradually ease restrictions starting next month. Nevertheless, he went ahead to condemn Singapore's death sentence policy on drug trafficking that defies worldwide law and standards.

According to reports 11 people charged with drug-related offences were executed in 2013. "At a time when global attention is focused on saving and protecting lives in a pandemic, the pursuit of the death penalty is all the more abhorrent". That, however, seems to have sparked a lot of conversation and criticism from various law professionals and rights groups across the globe.

A similar case was reported in Nigeria where Lagos judge Mojisola Dada awarded death sentence to Olalekan Hameed in the case of killing his employer's mother.

Activist and writer Kirsten Han is quoted by the BBC as saying, "The delivering of a death sentence via Zoom just highlights how clinical and administrative capital punishment is".

"It's stunning the prosecutors and the court docket are so callous that they miss out on {that a} man going through capital punishment ought to have the appropriate to be current in court docket to confront his accusers", mentioned the group's deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson.

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