Apex Court upholds death sentences for 2 traffickers in 1.3kg cannabis case, third man jailed for life
SINGAPORE: The Court of Appeal on Friday (Nov 26) dismissed appeals by three men against their convictions for their roles in the trafficking of about 1.3kg of cannabis.
This means that Malaysian Kamalnathan Muniandy, 27, and Singaporean Chandroo Subramaniam, 52, will be sentenced to death for conspiring to traffic the Class A controlled drug.
Malaysian national Pravinash Chandran, 26, will be jailed for life and given 15 strokes of the cane for having the drugs in his possession for the purpose of trafficking.
He was found to be a mere courier of the drugs, and the prosecution had certified that he substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
The trial judge had found in his decision in October 2020 that the three men had agreed to meet on Mar 5, 2016, to deliver three blocks of vegetable matter containing at least 1.34kg of cannabis to Chandroo.
Kamalnathan and Pravinash entered Singapore through Woodlands Checkpoint, and headed to Kranji MRT station. The drugs were transferred into Pravinash's haversack before they headed to Kranji Road, where they met Chandroo.
Chandroo handed money and empty plastic bags to Kamalnathan and Pravinash, before splitting up. The three men were arrested shortly after by CNB officers, and the drugs were found in Pravinash's haversack.
During the trial, all three men gave different accounts of what happened. Pravinash admitted entering Singapore that day to deliver drugs to a customer in Singapore.
He said he carried one of the three blocks of cannabis at first, while Kamalnathan carried the other two. According to him, Kamalnathan took the lead and received instructions from a "boss" known as Suren via his handphone.
Pravinash said it was Kamalnathan who established contact with Chandroo, took the money and plastic bags from him and suggested they regroup at a coffee shop due to police presence. Pravinash denied knowing the nature of the drugs.
Kamalnathan admitted in his police statements that he took instructions from Suren and knew Pravinash had drugs on him, as he had been paid a significant sum of 200 ringgit to take Pravinash to Singapore.
However, he said it was Pravinash who identified Chandroo. At trial, he changed his version of events to say he had entered Singapore to find a job, and that it was Pravinash who told him to take instructions from Suren.
Chandroo denied all knowledge of the drugs and trafficking. He said in an initial statement that he was on his way to Malaysia to pass S$4,000 to a friend to pay for his house.
He fortuitously met Kamalnathan and Pravinash for the first time along Kranji Road when Pravinash stopped to ask for directions to Tekka, he claimed.
Later on, at trial, Chandroo claimed he was at Kranji Road to pass money to a friend.
The Court of Appeal in their judgment on Friday found that the trial judge had neither erred in accepting Pravinash's account of events, nor in rejecting the accounts of Kamalnathan and Chandroo.
Evidence showed that Kamalnathan and Pravinash had previously delivered drugs to customers in Singapore. Pravinash said they had delivered drugs to strangers in Singapore on Mar 1, 2 and 4 in 2016, and this was corroborated by their Immigration and Checkpoints Authority records reflecting their entry into the country.
Kamalnathan's phone and toll records showed he was in constant contact with Suren after these entries into Singapore.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions of all three men, and dismissed their appeals against their respective sentences, saying there was no basis to set aside the mandatory sentences.