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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Singapore says most drug traffickers Malaysians, will not go easy on them

Screenshot from "Apprentice" by Boo Junfeng, 2016
It is “not tenable” for Singapore to go easy on Malaysian drug offenders who are caught on the Singapore side of the causeway, the island's Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam, said today.

Speaking at the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Workplan seminar, he noted the case of Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, the Malaysian who was granted a stay of execution yesterday by the Court of Appeal, saying he was accorded full due process at every stage.

The 31-year-old was convicted of trafficking 51.84g of heroin at Woodlands Checkpoint in September 2014.

"You bring in 51, 52 grams of pure heroin, it is equal to over 4,000 straws of heroin, and [it] feeds hundreds for a week. A person like that is a dealer in death, no two ways about it,” Shanmugam said, but did not go into specific details as the case is before the courts.

He pointed out that a majority of Singaporeans supported a tough anti-drug stance, including the use of the death penalty against drug traffickers.

Last week, the results of a study by the Ministry of Home Affairs showed 69.6 per cent of Singaporeans polled indicated that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for criminals who traffic a large amount of drugs.

"It is not tenable to give a special moratorium to Malaysians, and impose it on everyone else, including Singaporeans who commit offences which carry the death penalty," Shanmugam said. 

The minister added that nearly 30 percent of drug traffickers caught in Singapore last year were Malaysians and nearly 30 percent of the heroin found, by weight, was brought in by Malaysians. One in five of the heroin traffickers who brought in amounts that attracted the death penalty were Malaysians too, he said.

"How do we go easy on Malaysians in the face of these stats? And if we did, what will it mean for the rule of law? It will become a joke if there is a request made and we go easy. That is not the way Singapore works," he said.- Channel News Asia.

Source: thestandard.com.hk, Staff, May 24, 2019


‘Not tenable’ for Singapore to go easy on Malaysian drug offenders, says its minister


It is “not tenable” for Singapore to go easy on Malaysian drug offenders who are caught on its side of the Causeway, said Singapore’s Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam today, reported Channel News Asia.

Speaking at the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Workplan seminar, Shanmugam mentioned the case of Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, the Malaysian who was granted a stay of execution on Thursday by the Singapore Court of Appeal, saying he was accorded full due process at every stage.

Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong told the Malay Mail on Friday that he was “pleased to know of the stay of execution” for Pannir Selvam and had liaised with counterparts in Singapore with the blessings of Malaysia’s Foreign Office.

Shanmugam gave some observations about drug traffickers coming from Malaysia. He said that there are some from Malaysia’s ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition who are “ideologically opposed” to the death penalty and that they “have to respect that position”.

“At the same time, we do impose the death penalty in Singapore, and I expect that Malaysia will respect that position as well,” he said.

Singapore received three requests from Malaysia to intervene in executions since the Harapan government came into power a year ago, and two of these were drug traffickers, he added.

He pointed out that a majority of Singaporeans supported a tough anti-drug stance, including the use of the death penalty against drug traffickers.

Screenshot from "Apprentice" by Boo Junfeng, 2016The result of a study by the Ministry of Home Affairs last week showed that 69.6 per cent of Singaporeans polled indicated that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for criminals who traffic a large amount of drugs.

“It is not tenable to give a special moratorium to Malaysians, and impose it on everyone else, including Singaporeans who commit offences which carry the death penalty,” Shanmugam said.

Shanmugam said he intends to write back to his counterpart Liew to discuss ways to address this issue of cross-border drug offences and to “get to the root of the problem”.

One of the things he wants to bring up is to find out how many drug offenders are picked up by Malaysian authorities on their side of the Causeway.

He said it would be good for both sides if drug traffickers were caught by Malaysian authorities, as the offenders can be dealt with according to Malaysia’s laws and not have to worry about Singapore’s capital punishment.

He will also ask about efforts to catch drug kingpins operating from Malaysia who are “too scared” to come into Singapore.

“We have good cooperation with Malaysian agencies; they do a good job, we cooperate effectively. And I hope they can be given every support, and we can get more evidence on the other kingpins operating in Malaysia to be picked up,” Shanmugam said.

Another thing he wants to suggest is to publicise Singapore’s laws regarding drug offences to communities in Malaysia that may be more susceptible to being lured to bring drugs into Singapore.

“(The message would be) don’t traffic (drugs) into Singapore. And if you do, these are the consequences,” Shanmugam said.

Source: Malaysiakini, Agencies, May 24, 2019


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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