A man can be sentenced to death by a testimony of another, but CPIB finds it hard to prosecute with mountain of evidence and self-confession? – The Online Citizen Asia
On 7 July last year, 48-year-old Norasharee bin Gous was executed in Changi Prison after being accused by a rival gang member, Mohamad Yazid bin Md Yusof of instructing him to traffic drugs in 2013.
Yazid was arrested along with another Malaysian by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on 24 October 2013, having found in possession of bundles which contained not less than 120.90g of diamorphine.
While in detention, Yazid accused Norasharee of having instructed him to collect the drugs from a Malaysian courier the following day after having met on 23 October 2013 at VivoCity.
In July 2015, a year and nine months after the capture of Yazid, Norasharee was arrested at his workplace and subsequently charged with instigating Yazid to traffic the drugs found with him.
At the hearing, the judge rejected the defence of Norsharee and found Yazid was a truthful witness.
The judge then convicted Norasharee on 1 June 2016 and imposed the mandatory death penalty on him as he could not satisfy any of the requirements in s33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act on alternative sentencing while Yazid was sentenced to life in prison with 15 strokes of the cane after being issued a certificate of substantive assistance by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
Norasharee, in his appeal, had argued against the use of Yazid’s testimony as sole evidence to convict him, but the Court of Appeal referred to the appeal ruling of Chin Seow Noi v Public Prosecutor, stating that the co-accused’s testimony could be used as evidence to determine a person’s guilt under the law and they thus dismissed Norasharee’s appeal.
After exhausting all avenues and failing to convince the court to overturn the conviction, Norsharee was executed on 7 July 2022, together with his co-accused, Kalwant Singh Jogindar Singh.
TOC has been in touch with Norsharee’s friends and understands the story is not as simple as one would assume it to be — Such as the failings of Norasharee’s defence lawyer at the hearing, the possibility of a frame-up by Yazid to cover up for the real instigator and the inability of the prosecutors to prove Norasharee being physically at VivoCity on 24 October 2013 and meeting up with Yazid.
In any case, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), in consultation with the same AGC which decided that a single testimony was sufficient to prove guilt for the instigation of drug trafficking, recently issued a statement on how it had issued stern warnings to six former senior management of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (KOM) for their involvement in the bribery case in Brazil.
CPIB, in its press release, tried to justify their decision by stating how complex the bribery case in Brazil is, and that there is a possible lack of evidence to secure a conviction.
This case is complex and transnational, involving multiple authorities and witnesses from several countries. There are evidentiary difficulties in cases of such nature. Many of the documents are located in different jurisdictions. In addition, key witnesses are located outside of Singapore and cannot be compelled to give evidence here. The decision whether to prosecute the six individuals for criminal offences has to take into consideration all relevant factors, such as the culpability of each individual, the available evidence and what is appropriate in the circumstances. Having taken these into consideration, stern warnings were issued to the six individuals.CPIB in its 12 Jan 2023 press release
But we all know from the plea agreement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that KOM had already confessed to the offence, paid the fine of US$65 million, and DoJ had one of the KOM executives as its key witness. Not to mention, evidence of the conspiracy to bribe is already detailed clearly in emails seized by DoJ.
So the point here is, if a man can be sentenced to death solely by the testimony of another in Singapore, what is so hard in prosecuting persons who have confessed to a crime themselves?