Man In Singapore Sentenced To Death Via Zoom Video Call
A man in Singapore has been sentenced to death on a Zoom video call.
The sentence was handed out on Friday (15 May) amid coronavirus lockdown measures and it is the first time in the city-state's history that capital punishment has been delivered remotely.
Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old from Malaysia, was handed the most severe punishment for his involvement in trafficking 28.5g of heroin in 2011.
A spokesperson for Singapore's Supreme Court told Reuters: "For the safety of all involved in the proceedings, the hearing for Public Prosecutor v Punithan A/L Genasan was conducted by video-conferencing."
Many hearings in Singapore have been adjourned since lockdown was introduced in early April, with those deemed essential held remotely. The country has one of the highest coronavirus rates in Asia, with 29,364 cases and 22 deaths at the time of writing.
Genasan's lawyer Peter Fernando said his client was considering an appeal. Fernando added that he didn't object to the use of Zoom given that it was only to hear judge Chan Seng Onn's verdict. However, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, did not echo this sentiment.
He said: "Singapore's use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and the use of remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it even more so.
"The absolute finality of the sentence, and the reality that wrongful convictions do occur around the world in death sentence cases, raise serious concerns about why Singapore is rushing to conclude this case via Zoom."
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Singapore has a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal drugs and is one of only four countries known to still execute people for drug offences, according to Amnesty International.
The group's death penalty advisor Chiara Sangiorgio said: "Whether via Zoom or in person, a death sentence is always cruel and inhumane.
"This case is another reminder that Singapore continues to defy international law and standards by imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking."
Four people were executed in the city-state last year, and 13 the year before that.
Earlier this month, Nigeria sentenced Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging on a Zoom call for the murder of his employer's mother.
The hearing lasted almost three hours and was virtually attended by lawyers, including the attorney general.
According to the BBC, Lagos judge Mojisola Dada said: "The sentence of this court upon you, Olalekan Hameed, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be pronounced dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. This is the virtual judgment of the court."
LADbible has contacted Zoom for comment.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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