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Man who escaped gallows in 1994 after killing CNB officer gets death sentence for drug offence

Man who escaped gallows in 1994 after killing CNB officer gets death sentence for drug offence

File photo of the exterior of Singapore's Supreme Court.

SINGAPORE: A man who escaped the gallows in 1994 after killing a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer has been sentenced to death for possessing drugs for trafficking.

In grounds released on Monday (Nov 2), Justice Valerie Thean said she gave the mandatory death sentence to Roshdi Abdullah Altway, 61, for a single charge of possessing a controlled drug for trafficking.

Roshdi was arrested on Sep 14, 2016, at the void deck of Block 209B, Compassvale Lane with S$18,000 on him. At least 78.77g of diamorphine, also known as heroin, along with various drug paraphernalia, was recovered from the room he rented at the Sengkang flat.

During the trial, Roshdi admitted possessing the heroin, but denied doing so for the purposes of trafficking. He claimed he had held the drugs for safekeeping for a person known only as Aru, intending to return them, and asked the court to amend the charge to possession of drugs.

He argued that he had given certain statements based on alleged inducement from police officers, saying that one officer had told him: "Now Singapore has a new law. If this thing is not yours, you will not be hanged. You don't be afraid."

As a result, Roshdi said he was induced to make his statements involuntarily to the officer and that the statements were therefore inadmissible in law.

However, Justice Thean said a psychiatrist who examined Roshdi found that the accused had a suspicion of CNB officers, making it unlikely for him to trust them.

This stemmed from a 10-year imprisonment sentence involving the manslaughter of a CNB officer, and a 12-year sentence for drug trafficking.

"In light of Roshdi's history and personal circumstances, the expectation was that Roshdi would be skeptical and wary, not trusting and unquestioning," said the judge.

INCONSISTENCIES IN HIS EVIDENCE AT TRIAL

Roshdi had admitted in statements to receiving, repacking and delivering drugs on multiple occasions, agreeing to help Aru to repack and distribute drugs to customers for S$100 per "head" of heroin.

"Roshdi’s version at trial that he was merely safekeeping the drugs was therefore diametrically opposed to what he described in his statements," said Justice Thean. 

"According to him, he agreed to safekeep the drugs because Aru had offered him money and persuaded him to do so. Roshdi claimed that Aru would deliver the drugs to him for safekeeping, and that they came prepacked."

Roshdi claimed that the S$18,000 found on him when he was arrested was for a delivery of anchovies he was expecting. 

The judge found that the explanations given in Roshdi's statements were "detailed, coherent and consistent", while his evidence at trial "did not withstand scrutiny".

The inconsistencies in his evidence "were part of a general pattern of evasiveness", said Justice Thean.

LIES, ILLOGICAL RESPONSES

Roshdi had also admitted that about 30 per cent of his statements to the psychiatrist were lies, and that he would have lied in his statements had he not been "induced" to make them.

"Roshdi’s professed willingness to lie, coupled with his illogical responses on the stand, went to issues of general credibility and were consistent with my finding that the statements, rather than his version on the stand, were reliable."

She found that the prosecution had proven the element of possession for the purposes of trafficking beyond reasonable doubt.

Roshdi escaped the death penalty in 1994 after his conviction for murdering a CNB officer was quashed and he was given jail instead for culpable homicide committed in self-defence.

Roshdi had struck the officer with a granite mortar during a fight over money, when he thought the officer was reaching for his revolver. The blow left multiple fractures on the officer's skull, and his body was later found in Roshdi's car.

Source: CNA/ll

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