On 20 May 2013, Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim and Muhammad Ridzuan bin Mohd Ali were charged for trafficking 72.5g of heroin. Offenders in Singapore caught trafficking more than 15g of heroin faces the death penalty.
Abdul Haleem was sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane while Muhammad Ridzuan, was to be sent to the gallows.
For the same crime, two different lives were changed forever, because of the decision made by the Public Prosecutor.
Straits Times reported in 2013 that upon hearing their individual sentences, Abdul Haleem pointed out that he, together with his friend, faced the same charges. While choking back emotion, Abdul Haleem, told Justice Tay Yong Kwang,
"If you are sparing my life and not sparing his life, I'd rather go down with him."
Justice Tay replied, "You have certification from the Attorney-General's Chambers, he does not."
The certification the judge was referring to is the Certificate of Cooperation (COC) granted by the prosecution to Abdul Haleem.
According to We Believe in Second Chances, the COC is a relative new feature to Singapore’s death penalty regime. The advocators for the abolishment of the death penalty in Singapore said that the amendments to the mandatory death penalty came into force in 2013. Those convicted of drug trafficking are given the chance to escape the noose if they are found to be mere drug couriers, and are issued a COC indicating that they have “substantively cooperated” with investigators.
While it has been established by the court that Muhammad Ridzuan was just a courier, he was denied a certificate of substantial assistance by the Public Prosecutor, although he appealed against the death sentence imposed on him. Abdul Haleem however, was granted the same certificate, sparing him his life.
"The result was that two mere couriers, who participated in the same criminal enterprise received very different sentences as a result of the Public Prosecutor's determination that Abdul Haleem had provided substantial assistance, while Ridzuan had not," Eugene Thuraisingam, Muhammad Ridzuan's lawyer said.
It is not known how these decisions are made on whose life should be spared, based on the evidences given by the offenders.
Although the Court of Appeal said that the Public Prosecutor (PP) would have to show that there is a difference of material evidence provided by the two to warrant the difference in treatment, the court eventually ruled that the PP need not declare anything because it may jeopdise the operations of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB).
When charged, Muhammad Ridzuan fought against his sentence, claiming that he did know know he would be receiving that much drugs from the supplier.
In May 2010, the two men had agreed to buy one 'ball' of heroin from a supplier. However, they were given a total of seven 'balls' instead, with the supplier telling them that they would be contacted from others, who would later pick up the extra bundles of heroin. Both men were caught with all the drugs in their possession.
On Wednesday, 17 May 2017, Muhammad Ridzuan's clemency appeal against his capital charge to the President was rejected.
He will be due to hang tomorrow morning, Friday, 19 May 2017, at 6am.
Human rights lawyer, M Ravi, petitions the stay of execution of Muhammad Ridzuan
This morning, human rights lawyer and advocate, M Ravi, went to the Istana to present to the President his petition to cancel the execution of Muhammad Ridzuan.
M Ravi had called the impending execution of Muhammad Ridzuan a "crime against humanity", "a form of genocide", and is "unlawful under Articles 9(1) and 12 of the Singapore Constitution", adding that it is also a "breach of customary international law".
"Ridzuan's intended execution will also engage the Rome Statute and be condemned as being a crime against humanity if the execution proceeds tomorrows as such execution may form a subject of criminal prosecution against Singapore authorities before the International Criminal Courts," M Ravi said in his petition to the President.
Two other offenders, Prabagaran and Datchinamurthy are also presently facing executions in Singapore for drug trafficking. The two men's case are being taken up to the Malaysian High Court of Appeal. Should their cases reach the International Court of Justice with a positive outcome, Muhammad Ridzuan would not be alive to benefit from the outcome.
Lawyer for Muhammad Ridzuan, Eugene Thuraisingam, had also shared his thoughts on the President rejecting the 32-year-old plea for clemency.
"Ridzuan was only 25 years of age at the time of the offence. He is now 32 years old.
Is there no chance of rehabilitation for a young Singaporean offender who was only 25 years of age and even then only a mere courier? Should 2 offenders who committed the same offence be given very different sentences based solely on the Public Prosecutor's determination?" Thuraisingam said.
Below is the petition M Ravi had submitted to the President this morning: