They were facing certain death from the hangman's noose, but may now be given a lifeline after proposed changes to the mandatory death penalty were introduced in Parliament on Monday.
If the new law is passed, the cases against 34 prisoners on death row here can be reviewed, even if they have exhausted all avenues of appeal.
Under proposed changes in the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill and the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2012, these prisoners will be given an opportunity to introduce new evidence to prove that they satisfy the conditions for a life sentence instead.
In Singapore, a life sentence lasts for a prisoner's natural life, but he can apply for a review of his sentence after he has served 20 years in jail.
Among the 34 on death row, 28 were convicted of drug trafficking, and 6 of murder.
A stay of execution was put in place after the review of the mandatory death penalty started in July last year.
There were originally 35 death row prisoners, but one of them, Pathip Selvan Sugumaran, escaped the gallows after the Court of Appeal, in August, set aside his conviction of murdering his girlfriend 4 years ago.
The 26-year-old was found guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Since the proposed changes were announced in Parliament by Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean and Law Minister K. Shanmugam in July, briefing sessions have been held in Changi Prison for death row prisoners.
All 34 can be considered for resentencing under transitional provisions that will be enacted.
Under those provisions, those convicted of murder will be given a chance to show that their cases fall under Sections 300b, c, or d of the Penal Code, which will no longer attract a mandatory death penalty.
Those convicted of drug trafficking will also get a chance to prove that they were only low-level couriers, and also to cooperate with the Central Narcotics Bureau if they have not done so in the past.
The proposed changes to the mandatory death penalty laws will give judges the discretion to impose a life sentence when these conditions are met.
Most of the 34 will be represented by the same lawyers who defended them earlier.
Some prisoners, though, have not yet found lawyers to represent them and appeals have been sent out to the legal community for help.
Source: AsiaOne, October 18, 2012
APHR Source: Death Penalty News: http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2012/10/singapore-34-death-row-cases-may-come.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DeathPenaltyNews+%28Death+Penalty+News%29
Last Access: 21/Oct/2012 7:17 am