Drug trafficker receives stay of execution
Court of Appeal granted his request as he was told of the rejection for clemency and his execution date only one week in advance
Twenty-four hours before he was supposed to be hanged here, a Malaysian man was granted a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, 31, who was given the death penalty for drug trafficking, had applied for the stay of execution on the basis that he intends to mount a legal challenge against the rejection of his petition for clemency by President Halimah Yacob.
According to The Straits Times, the court granted his request, noting that Pannir Selvam was told of the rejection for clemency and his execution date just one week in advance, not leaving him much time to obtain legal advice on what options he has to challenge the rejection.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement yesterday that the court gave directions for any application by Pannir Selvam for relief to be filed within two weeks and that any application would be fixed for hearing before an appropriate court at short notice.
Pannir Selvam was sentenced to death in 2017 after he was caught importing 51.84g of heroin from Malaysia.
According to court documents, on Sept 3, 2014, Pannir Selvam rode through Woodlands Checkpoint on his motorcycle and was stopped for a random check.
He was found to have three packets hidden in his groin and one in the back seat compartment of his motorcycle. The packets were found to contain the heroin.
Although he had denied knowledge of what was in the packets, the judge determined that he was not able to show this lack of knowledge and he was given the death sentence.
MHA said that the Court of Appeal had dismissed an appeal by Pannir Selvam against the conviction in Febuary last year.
The news of Pannir Selvam's impending execution was picked up by Malaysian newspapers earlier this week after Lawyers for Liberty, a human rights lawyers organisation, released a statement about the case on its website on Saturday.
In it, the organisation's adviser N. Surenderan questioned the clemency process, saying that letters from President Halimah turning down clemency and the letter notifying Pannir Selvam's family of the execution date were both dated May 17.
In its statement yesterday, the MHA said President Halimah had given directions on May 7 to notify Pannir Selvam and his family that the death penalty would stand and it confirmed that the subsequent two letters were dated May 17.
The MHA said clemency petitions were carefully considered and that the "President acted on the advice of the Cabinet, in accordance with Article 22P of the Constitution, in not exercising the clemency power."
MHA also clarified claims in the Malaysian press that Pannir Selvam was unreasonably denied a "certificate of substantive assistance", after allegedly providing information about the mastermind behind the operation, who is still believed to be active in the drug trade.
It said that the public prosecutor had determined that the offender had not provided the authorities substantive assistance that would have led to the disruption of drug trafficking activities in Singapore.
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now