19 August 2008

Side-stepping the death penalty

Three men were caught with 18.4 grams of heroin. Under the law, they would face the mandatory death penalty. However, the prosecutor told the court that they were being charged with possessing 14.99 grams. Was he playing fast and loose with facts? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Comparing the Aussie citizen of Viet descent versus the German lady who is white. Does race play a part in judgement? Australia applied enormous pressure on Singapore over a period of several months, in fact Singapore had a lot to lose if Aussie government had taken up their citizens' suggestions to go on selective strikes against all SIA flights at Aussie airports which was one of the planned initiatives. The Aussie government was relentless in their pursuit to get Spore government to drop the death penalty. There was no budging on the Spore side.

For some unforseen reason, the German lady got off the hook easily.

Anonymous said...

I doubt race had a lot to do with it. I suspect that the Germans applied more pressure than the conservative Howard government of Australia. In Australia, the government didn't seem to do much; the public was outraged though. In Germany, both would have been outraged.

Robert L said...

Dear YB

Allow me to speculate a little regarding this puzzling case. I always feel that whenever authorities withhold facts and data from us, it is our duty as citizens to speculate. If we deny ourselves this exercise in speculation, then we make losers of ourselves.

But first, a declaration: while I'm opposed to the death penalty for the paltry amount of 15g of heroin, nevertheless I'll put aside my personal position and examine the case from a logical point of view based on the existing legislation.

Regarding the case in point, one clue that emerges is this passage:

"Two of the trio pleaded guilty Friday in the High Court to ferrying 14.99 grams, while the third admitted possessing the same amount."

Now, if two of the trio traded an amount of 18.4g of heroin to the third guy, then it can be argued by simple arithmetics that the first two each traded 9.2g to the third guy.

Alternatively, if the trio choose a different story, they can make out a case that the three of them each traded an amount of 6.1g to others not yet known.

All these amounts would not trigger the threshold of 15g.

If you were to ask various people whether they agree with the two scenarios above, I expect some of them would agree and some would disagree. But the AG would have to ask himself whether he wants to take the chance with the judges hearing the case. If he can get the trio to plead to a lesser charge, then he eliminates the uncertainty.

Take note too, that in finally inking 14.99g, the AG did not use any of the figures that I've calculated, no doubt so as to minimise public knowledge of the way the trio could have defended themselves.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the prosecutors are having a crisis of conscience in demanding the death penalty. This is a clever way to sidestep the State, perhaps.