On Thursday 28 July 2023 authorities in Singapore executed by hanging 45 year old ethnic Tamil citizen Saridewi Binte Djamani. Ms Djamani was convicted after trial and sentenced to death for trafficking 30.72 grams of heroin.
On Appeal Ms Djamani relied on the defence of consumption and that the heroin was for her own personal use and not for sale. The court rejected the defence on the basis that the facts of her heroin habit leading up to her arrest simply did not make out the defence of consumption:
“…her case was materially inconsistent and to that extent was indicative of fabrications and afterthought.”
The court also dismissed expert evidence from Psychiatrist Dr Rajesh Jacob that:
“… her state of mind was impaired when her statements were taken.”
Specifically, at the time of providing authorities her statement she was experiencing withdrawal symptoms which caused impaired cognitive reasoning, lack of focus, poor concentration and open to suggestion.
However, the court found that no cognitive impairment was ever raised by the defence until the time of Appeal when leave was sought to adduce fresh evidence of Dr Jacob. The defences raised here are often relied upon by drug traffickers facing Australian courts. It was for my personal use and I had no idea what I was doing because of my drug addiction sometimes goes to mitigation but rarely a defence or excuse.
A final note, Ms Djamani was the first women in 20 years to executed for drug trafficking. At present some 60 all male prisoner are sitting on death row for drug related offences.