The High Court has allowed for an interim stay of execution for 44-year-old Singaporean, Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin of the death sentence, said human rights lawyer M Ravi in a Facebook post on Thursday (17 September).
Syed has been scheduled to be hanged tomorrow (18 September) at Changi Prison for drug trafficking offences committed back in August 2011.
“The High Court has ordered an interim stay of execution of the death sentence of Suhail pending the filing of his appeal papers by 4pm today to the Court of Appeal and subsequently until the appeal is heard by the Court of Appeal against the ruling the Learned High Court Judge in dismissing the Judicial Review Application which was heard this morning,” Mr Ravi wrote in his post.
He added, “In short Suhail will not be executed tomorrow”.
In January 2016, Singapore’s High Court found Syed guilty of trafficking under 40 grams of heroin, court documents stated. The judgement pointed out that he is unable to prove that he was keeping the drugs for personal consumption, citing cost and financial difficulties. The documents also noted that Syed sold a packet of heroin to a man for S$5,700.
The Singaporean was convicted under the Misuse of Drug Act. Under this law, any individual who is in possession of more than 2 grams of heroin is presumed to have it for trafficking purposes, unless can be proven otherwise. The sentence for drug trafficking is the death penalty.
Then, on 10 September this year, Syed’s family received a letter informing them that Syed will be executed on this Friday and encouraged them to make funeral arrangements. His family was only told about his planned execution eight days earlier, and only allowed to visit Syed four hours per day.
Given that most of his close relatives reside in Malaysia, they are not permitted to visit him due to the border closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After knowing the date of his execution, Syed sent a handwritten letter on Tuesday (15 September) to his lawyer, Mr Ravi, seeking for his help.
The inmate wrote, “I love Singapore. Everything I love is here. Being Singaporean, though, has expedited my execution.”
He continued, “The insensitivity and the entirely new level of cruelty that decision makers have decided to unleash is felt more so by my loved ones even though it is directed at me.”
“Mr M Ravi, I heard you could help. Come see me,” he added.
Mr Ravi, who posted Syed’s handwritten letter online, said: “Death penalty is disproportionately applied against the poor and the disadvantaged section of society”.
He added, “Perfection is an aspiration that can only be manifested through realizing flaws and correcting them. After all, ‘the justice system is made up of people, people have faults. It’s not perfect.’”
Mr Ravi also noted that he is taking the case on a pro bono basis, and his team has hope.
“Hope is the foundation that humanity rests its faith upon,” he said. He continued: “No justice system is full proof and hence the death penalty is not safe for it is irreversible”.
If that’s not all, a petition on charge.org has also been set up urging President Halimah Yacob to grant clemency for Syed, or at the very least, a stay of execution. At the time of writing, the mercy petition has gathered close to 20,000 signatures.
Court of Appeal to hear the appeal at a later date
In Mr Ravi’s latest Facebook post, he revealed that Justice See Kee Oon heard the case this morning and informed his team that the Court of Appeal is not available to hear the appeal tomorrow.
As such, Justice See said that he will be informed of the hearing date once it is scheduled before the Court of Appeal.
Separately, the human rights lawyer also highlighted the applications that were filed today.
“The Judicial Review Application this morning was a constitutional challenge on the disuse of the Presidential Pardon Process and Suhail, who is a Singaporean complained of unequal treatment and discriminatory treatment on grounds of nationality in executing a Singaporean in an expedited manner over foreigners facing execution,” Mr Ravi wrote.
He added, “I have also separately filed another application by way of Criminal Motion to urge the Court of Appeal to reopen its earlier decision as Suhail was not previously resentenced under Section 33B(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act which is an alternative sentencing regime available for persons suffering from psychiatric conditions and medical evidence can be adduced.”
“I urgently sought the expertise of a leading psychiatrist Dr Ken Ung yesterday who is willing to see Suhail to provide a report.”