Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced that the Singapore Government is working with UK authorities on the extradition of David James Roach to Singapore.
The ministry noted that as part of the extradition proceedings, the UK Government has requested an assurance that if Roach were to be found guilty by a Singapore Court of robbery, the sentence of corporal punishment will not be carried out.
It stated that the Singapore Government has agreed to the UK authorities’ request.
According to the ministry, UK extradition laws prohibit UK from extraditing Roach to Singapore in the absence of such an assurance.
Roach’s extradition is being sought on one count of robbery under s 392 of the Penal Code and one count of money laundering under s 47(1)(b) of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. Both offences carry maximum imprisonment terms of 10 years.
MHA then noted that the provision of the assurance is being done to try and ensure that Roach does not escape justice, and does not affect the general position taken by Singapore on corporal punishment. The UK Courts will decide whether to extradite Roach.
The unarmed man robbed $30,000 from a bank branch of Standard Chartered Bank at Holland Village at 11.25 am on 7 July 2017, making it the first Singapore bank robbery in 8 years since the last incident in 2008.
He was then seen wandering around the streets of Bangkok in just 6 hours after the crime.
After running away for three days, the Royal Thai Police finally arrested the 28-year-old man on Sunday 10, at Boxpackers Hostel in the Ratchathewi district of central Bangkok.
Singapore authorities were seeking assistance from Thai government to repatriate the Canadian, Unfortunately, the Attorney-General's Office in Bangkok rejected the request as Singapore has no extradition treaty with Thailand.
Roach was sentenced to 14 months' jail in Thailand on 6 June last year for crimes linked to the bank robbery in Singapore, including violating money laundering and customs laws for smuggling the money into the country.
He was detained at London's Heathrow Airport by officers from the Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit on 11 January when he was on his way to Canada.
Singapore is seeking his extradition on one count of robbery and one count of money laundering. Both offences carry a maximum jail term of 10 years.
According to the Penal Code, in addition to a jail term, anyone found guilty of robbery in Singapore "shall also be punished with caning with not less than six strokes" if the crime was committed after 7 am and before 7 pm.
Mr Choo Zheng Xi, a director at Peter Low & Choo was quoted by media to have said, “Diplomatic assurances are not legally binding and would not amount to legal precedent. Caning is mandatory for a conviction of robbery,”
He went on to elaborate that “What MHA’s assurance means is that, if Roach were to be convicted of robbery, his sentence of caning would have to be commuted by the President of Singapore on the advice of Cabinet. Under existing case law, the President would have to act on the advice of Cabinet.”
Editor's note: This means that Singapore's promise to UK can be easily fulfilled as the President listens to the orders by cabinet even though under the law, there is no such allowance.