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Man fails in appeal against death sentence for transporting 1kg of cannabis into Singapore

Man fails in appeal against death sentence for transporting 1kg of cannabis into Singapore

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

SINGAPORE: A man who imported 1kg of cannabis from Malaysia into Singapore three years ago is set to hang after his appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Apex Court on Tuesday (Oct 12).

Singaporean Omar Yacob Bamadhaj, 41, was sentenced to death in February this year after being convicted of one count of importing into Singapore three bundles containing at least 1kg of cannabis in 2018.

He was nabbed during a routine check at Woodlands Checkpoint past midnight on Jul 12, 2018. His father, who did not know about the drugs, was at the wheel.

When asked about the three bundles wrapped in aluminium foil, cling wrap and newspaper in the boot of the car, Omar said they contained "plants for herbs".

The prosecution's case is that Omar pre-ordered the Class A drugs on Jul 10, 2018 and collected them a day later near a mosque in Malaysia. 

Omar's defence at trial was that he did not know the nature of the bundles at the time. He claimed his acquaintances, known as Din and Latif, had placed the bundles in his bag without his knowledge.

Omar and his father left Singapore on Jul 11, 2018 to buy groceries and to perform their evening prayers at a mosque. After that, Omar dropped his father off at his brother's school for an event, while he himself went to run errands.

While at a car wash, he met two of his acquaintances, Din and Latif. Latif asked Omar to bring three bundles wrapped in newspapers into Singapore, and Omar initially said he did not want to take the risk.

In a statement Omar gave to the police on the day of his arrest, he said the deal was for S$500 per bundle. He said he knew the "green" was marijuana, and contemplated for 20 minutes before accepting the deal as he was "desperate for money".

However, in later statements, he denied knowledge of what the bundles were, claiming that Din or Latif had placed the bundles in his car without his knowledge.

On Tuesday, Omar's lawyer Hassan Esa Almenoar said there was reasonable doubt as to whether Omar imported the drugs deliberately or not, and said it was "difficult to conclude that he planned all this".

ALLEGED COERCION BY CNB OFFICERS

Omar had argued that the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers had "coerced" him into giving admissions. He claimed that an officer threw a pen at him, and threatened him and said: "If you refuse to admit to this, I will throw both you and your father to be hanged".

However, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said it was "difficult" to see how Omar's two earliest statements were "involuntary". He pointed out that notwithstanding the allegation that the first officer had threatened Omar, the second statement was taken by a different officer, with Omar divulging more details of how and why he imported the drugs.

Omar only pulled back from his admissions five days after giving those statements, said the Chief Justice, who heard the case along with Justices Andrew Phang and Chao Hick Tin.

Omar's new version of events was that his mind "went blank" when his car was stopped at Woodlands Checkpoint and the three bundles were uncovered.

In a subsequent statement, the officer questioned Omar as to the disparities in his statements. When asked why there were differences in his accounts, Omar replied: "I said that because I was not at the right state of mind. I was feeling high from the stick I had smoked with Din. High to me is like being semi-conscious."

The Chief Justice pointed out that if Omar had really been coerced by the officer, this was when he should have said so.

After deliberating the case, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, saying they were satisfied that the trial judge had examined the case carefully.

Source: CNA/ll(gr)

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