A man was sentenced to death in Singapore on a zoom video call for his role in a drug store. This is the first case of the city-state in which the death penalty was imposed remotely.
Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old Malaysian, was punished on Friday for his role in a heroin transaction in 2011, court documents showed. The country was locked to curb one of the highest coronavirus rates in Asia.
"For the safety of everyone involved in the trial, the prosecutor's hearing against Punithan A / L Genasan was videoconferenced," a Singapore Supreme Court spokesman replied to Reuters' questions, referring to restrictions to minimize virus spread.
It was the first criminal case to be sentenced to death by remote hearing in Singapore, the spokesman added.
Genasan's lawyer, Peter Fernando, said his client had received the judge's verdict on a zoom call and was considering an appeal.
While rights groups have criticized the use of zoom in capital cases, Fernando said he had no objection to the use of video conferencing for the Friday call because it was all about getting the judge's verdict, which was clearly heard, and no other legal arguments were presented.
California-based technology company Zoom did not immediately respond to a request for comments made through its representatives in Singapore. The Prosecutor General's Chambers, the Prosecutor's Office, referred Reuters' questions to the Supreme Court.
Many court hearings in Singapore were adjourned during a blackout period that began in early April and is set to run until June 1, while cases that were considered material were handled remotely.
Singapore has a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs and has hanged hundreds of people, including dozens of foreigners, over the past few decades for drug-related offenses, rights groups say.
"Singapore's use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and using remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it worse," said Phil Robertson, vice director of Asia for Human Rights Watch. HRW has also criticized a similar case in Nigeria in which Zoom was sentenced to death.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)