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Man Receives Death Sentence Via Zoom Video Call

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A man has been sentenced to death in Singapore via a Zoom video call in the country’s first case where such a decision has been delivered remotely.

Court documents on Wednesday revealed that Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old Malaysian, received the sentence on Friday for his role in a 2011 heroin transaction, with the country under strict lockdown to halt the spread of Coronavirus.

“For the safety of all involved in the proceedings, the hearing for Public Prosecutor v Punithan A/L Genasan was conducted by video conferencing,” a spokesperson for Singapore’s Supreme Court said in response to Reuters’ questions, citing restrictions imposed to minimise the spread of the virus.

It was the first criminal case where a death sentence was pronounced by remote hearing in Singapore, the spokesperson added.

Genasan’s lawyer, Peter Fernando, said his client received the judge’s verdict on a Zoom call and was considering an appeal.

While Rights groups have criticised the use of Zoom in capital cases around the world, Fernando said he did not object to the use of video-conferencing for Friday’s call because it was only to receive the judge’s verdict with no further legal arguments to be heard.

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“Singapore’s use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and the use of remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it even more so,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

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