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SINGAPORE: TRAFFICKER ON DEATH ROW ESCAPES GALLOWS

March 5, 2012: In Singapore, the fate of a drug trafficker who was on death row has taken a second dramatic turn.
Thong Ah Fat, a 32-year-old Malaysian, now no longer faces the gallows if he is found guilty.
He was at first convicted in August 2010 to hang for importing more than 15g of heroin.
Then, in a landmark Court of Appeal ruling last December, he was granted a retrial on the grounds that the appeals court found the one-page judgment by the trial judge inadequate.
Then last week, with nine days scheduled for the retrial, representations by his assigned lawyers R. S. Bajwa and Mahmood Ghaznavi led to the prosecution's decision to reduce Thong's drug offences to a non-capital charge.
Thong is expected to plead guilty in the High Court today to a lesser charge of importing in not less than 14.99g of diamorphine.
This charge under the Misuse of Drugs Act carries a maximum of 30 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.
If convicted, he will be dealt at least 20 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane, but at least he can be certain he will be spared the gallows.
Of the move by his lawyers to push for the charges to be reduced, lawyers say it is the general accepted practice in criminal cases for them to make representations for reduced charges to the public prosecutor on an accused person's behalf before a case is heard.
But such submissions are made based on justifiable circumstances. Under the law, the public prosecutor has the discretion to amend the charges - or not.
The defence lawyers are expected to plead for the court's leniency on their client's behalf, to help the court come to a fresh decision on the sentence to be meted out against Thong.
In its judgment last December, the Court of Appeal stressed that to order a retrial 'is never of course a light matter'.
'Much anxiety, inconvenience and even hardship is caused all round and sometimes the ultimate decision may not be different,' said the apex court's judgment grounds.
But the judge at his trial did not fully explain why Thong's account was not convincing, said the appeals court. It thus ordered a retrial in the interests of open justice.
Thong had been condemned to hang, despite claiming that he did not know the substance he was carrying was heroin. He had been caught with 10 packets of the drug in his car at the Woodlands Checkpoint in 2009. At his trial, he admitted he knew the bags contained drugs, but claimed he thought they were Ice.
Trafficking in more than 15g of heroin brings a mandatory death penalty.
Thong also claimed he was tricked into making a police statement shortly after his arrest.
The court noted that there was objective evidence to show he was an Ice addict.
But it was not clear whether the trial judge had considered this, which made the judgment 'plainly unsatisfactory', said the appeals court. (Sources: Straits Times, 05/03/2012)

MOROCCO REJECTS BOMB CASE APPEAL, UPS SENTENCE TO DEATH
USA: 500 TASER DEATHS
MALAYSIA: 3 THAI NATIONALS, MALAYSIAN TO HANG FOR FIREARMS, BULLETS POSSESSION
SAUDI ARABIA: APOSTATE SAUDI WRITER REPENTS AT COURT
CHINA: AMENDMENT TO LIMIT USE OF DEATH PENALTY
ARIZONA (USA): 2ND EXECUTION IN THE STATE THIS YEAR
ZAMBIA: WIFE KILLER TO HANG
PAKISTAN: SIX SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDER
TEXAS (USA): KEITH THURMOND EXECUTED
CHINA: 3 TAIWANESE EXECUTED IN XIAMEN FOR TRAFFICKING 357KG DRUGS
EGYPT: TWO SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING FIRST MILITARY VICTIM SINCE UPRISING
CHINA: DEATH-ROW INMATES MAIN SOURCE OF ORGANS
MALAYSIA: IRANIAN TO HANG FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
TAIWAN: MND PUNISHES DOZENS OVER WRONGFUL EXECUTION
IRAN: SUPREME COURT ORDERS RETRIAL OF EX-MARINE SENTENCED TO DEATH
IRAN: ANNUAL REPORT ON THE DEATH PENALTY IN 2011
INDIA: TRIPLE MURDER ACCUSED GETS DEATH SENTENCE
EGYPT: MAN GETS DEATH SENTENCE FOR TORTURING WIFE TO DEATH
NIGERIA: SUPREME COURT FREES MAN-EATER 15 YEARS LATER
TANZANIA: MARIAM`S KILLER MUST HANG TO DEATH
JAPAN: TOP COURT REJECTS APPEAL, FINALIZING DEATH PENALTY FOR MURDER-ROBBERY
CALIFORNIA (USA): 800,000 SIGNATURES GATHERED TO REPEAL DEATH PENALTY
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: MARLON KING SENTENCED TO HANG
INDIA: MAN GETS DEATH SENTENCE FOR RAPE AND MURDER OF SCHOOLGIRL
MALAYSIA: MINISTER FOR ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY
GAZA: DEATH PENALTY UPHELD FOR MURDER

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IRAN: HANDS OFF CAIN, THE HANGING OF THE PROTESTER MOSTAFA SALEHI IS A SHAME FOR THE SO-CALLED DEMOCRATIC WORLD 
  USA: ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’, BUT IS IT ONLY RACISM?  
  IRAN. HANDS OFF CAIN, REDUCTION OF DRUG EXECUTIONS BUT NUMBERS REMAIN WORRISOME  
  HUMAN RIGHTS: DEMONSTRATION OF THE RADICAL PARTY BEFORE IRANIAN EMBASSY 14 FEBRUARY  
  BELARUS EXECUTES TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS  
  MALAYSIA: GOVT HALTS EXECUTION OF 1,200 DEATH ROW INMATES  
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