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Drug trafficker found to be a mere courier, but apex court upholds death penalty

SINGAPORE — The apex court on Monday (Feb 11) ruled a drug trafficker to be merely a courier, but the Singaporean man still faces the gallows as he was not given a certificate of substantive assistance by the public prosecutor.

SINGAPORE — The apex court on Monday (Feb 11) ruled a drug trafficker to be merely a courier, but the Singaporean man still faces the gallows as he was not given a certificate of substantive assistance by the public prosecutor.

Delivering the three-judge Court of Appeal’s decision, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon disagreed with the earlier High Court ruling that Zamri Mohd Tahir had not proven he was merely a drug courier.

There was no evidence to show that Zamri, 44, had resolved to do more than deliver drugs at the point of his arrest, said CJ Menon.

Zamri worked for someone he referred to as Abang, and had not received any instructions on what to do with the drugs.

When he was arrested on Oct 14, 2014 while trying to exit the car park of Block 606 Clementi West Street 1 in a van driven by a friend, he had only collected and transported five bundles of heroin. The bundles were placed in a red plastic bag in the basket of a bicycle at the void deck.

Zamri was found guilty of possessing not less than 40.37g of heroin, or diamorphine, for the purpose of trafficking.

According to him, it was the fourth time he had helped to move drugs. The previous time, he had helped to repack drugs.

For the latest batch of drugs, Zamri said he intended to do whatever Abang instructed.

But the fact remained that no instructions had been given at the point of his arrest, and there was no evidence what Abang’s instructions would have been, said CJ Menon, who ruled together with Judges of Appeal Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang.

“It was, in truth, unknown and unknowable what the accused would have done after he had taken delivery of the drugs,” he said.

The public prosecutor affirmed on Nov 29 last year that he would not issue a certificate of substantive assistance to Zamri.

Under changes to the law that took effect in 2013, drug traffickers may escape the death sentence if they are found to have been mere couriers, and if a certificate is issued that they substantively aided the Central Narcotics Bureau in disrupting drug trafficking activities.

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