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Singapore Court of Appeal overturns man’s death sentence due to inconsistencies in prosecution’s case

On 8 May, the Singapore Court of Appeal overturned the death sentence of a 63-year-old Singaporean man due to inconsistencies in the prosecution’s timeline of drug delivery.



On 8 May, the Singapore Court of Appeal issued a significant judgment overturning the death sentence of Mohamed Mubin bin Abdul Rahman, a 63-year-old convicted of trafficking heroin.

The reversal was due to critical inconsistencies in the prosecution’s narrative concerning the timeline of the drug delivery, which was central to the conviction.

Mubin was previously convicted with two capital charges under section 5(1)(a) combined with sections 5(2) and 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act for trafficking in diamorphine by Justice Valerie Thean on 10 March 2020.

The case dates back to 8 September 2015, when Central Narcotics Bureau officers arrested Lokman bin Abdul Rahman at a condominium in Katong. Lokman was found carrying a black bag containing two bundles of granular substances, totaling at least 39.28 grams of heroin. Further investigations led to a condo unit rented by his brother Mubin, where additional drugs were discovered.

When Mubin was arrested on October 5, 2015, he was found with methamphetamine, heroin, empty sachets, and a weighing scale.

The prosecution contended that Mubin had orchestrated the collection and distribution of the drugs, directing Lokman to deliver one bundle of heroin to a contact named “Edy” and the other back to himself.

According to the prosecution, the drugs originated from Malaysian suppliers Mohd Zaini Zainutdin and Mohd Noor Ismail.

Throughout the trial, Lokman maintained he acted under Mubin’s instruction, receiving drugs and money in return. In contrast, Mubin denied any involvement, stating he only consumed methamphetamine, which he claimed was the only drug supplied by Zaini.

The trial court initially concluded that the drugs in question were delivered on 5 September 2015, siding with the prosecution that Mubin was the mastermind behind the operation. Consequently, Mubin was sentenced to death, while Lokman received a life sentence, recognized merely as a courier.

However, during Mubin’s appeal, his attorneys, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and Mr Johannes Hadi, argued that the prosecution’s case was flawed due to a significant shift in their narrative during the trial.

This shift, they claimed, prejudiced Mubin’s defence. Specifically, the prosecution changed its stance on the delivery dates of the heroin bundles, initially claiming a specific timeline before adopting a broader timeframe in its closing arguments.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivering the judgment, noted the prosecution’s inconsistency regarding when the drugs were delivered significantly weakened their case. He remarked, “The shifts in the prosecution’s narrative not only affected the overall integrity of their case but also impeded a fair assessment of the evidence.”

The Court of Appeal noted significant shifts in the prosecution’s position regarding the delivery dates of the drugs involved in Mohamed Mubin bin Abdul Rahman’s case, which were central to the charges against him. Initially, the prosecution’s narrative was that two bundles of diamorphine delivered on 5 September 2015, had been unwrapped and disposed of by the time of Lokman’s arrest on 8 September 2015.

This narrative was based on the evidence given by Lokman, which the prosecution did not challenge. Instead, the prosecution agreed that these bundles had been delivered on 7 September 2015.

However, after the appellant, Mubin, testified, the prosecution shifted its stance. In their closing submissions, they suggested that it did not matter whether the bundles were delivered on 1, 5, or 7 September in 2015. This change occurred after the defence had closed its case, which was argued to have caused prejudice to the appellant because the defence could not effectively address this new position.

The Court of Appeal viewed this shift in the prosecution’s position critically, as it impacted the fairness of the trial process. The court expressed concern that this late change in the prosecution’s narrative could have affected the defence’s ability to mount an effective response, potentially impacting the outcome of the trial.

Based on these findings, the court concluded that there were significant inconsistencies and doubts in the prosecution’s case on when and how the drugs were supposedly delivered, leading to the overturning of the case against Mubin.

Following the judgment to overturn the sentence, the court posed several questions to be addressed through written submissions within four weeks.

These questions included whether an acquittal should be issued or if a retrial should be ordered, considering the principles established in AOF v Public Prosecutor [2012] 3 SLR 34 and the significant time that has elapsed since the alleged offense.

Additionally, the court queried if, in the event of a discharge amounting to an acquittal, any altered charges should be preferred against Abdul Rahman in light of his admissions of obtaining methamphetamine from Zaini on multiple occasions, including on 7 September 2015.

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Escaped by a technicality.
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Now is society problem ,when and if ever he gets released!