The Appeal Court of Singapore Wednesday ordered a review of its 2015 conviction of a Nigerian, Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi, for drug trafficking citing availability of new evidence.
In a written judgment, a three-man panel comprising Chao Hick Tin, Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang said the new evidence raised “a powerful probability” that their decision to convict Chukwudi was wrong.
Two years ago the appellate court overturned a Singaporean High Court judgment which acquitted Chukwudi following his trial for bringing nearly 2kg of methamphetamine into Singapore, enough to warrant the death penalty.
But yesterday, the judges allowed the application by Ilechukwu’s lawyers to review the conviction, because of “the unique turn of events.”
They relied on a psychiatric report by the country’s Institute of Mental Health (IMH) issued in March, in which a psychiatrist Dr Jaydip Sarkar said Ilechukwu suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as “a result of childhood trauma … of being nearly killed and viewing the killing of others.”
The judges, who were the same judges that quashed Ilechukwu’s acquittal in 2015, said the report raised “a matter which has a crucial bearing on our decision.”
According to Dr. Sakar’s report, Chukwudi’s PTSD symptoms were “triggered” after he was told by officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) that he faced the death penalty for trafficking methamphetamine.
This could have “prompted him to utter unsophisticated and blatant falsehoods (to the CNB) in order to save his life,” the psychiatrist said.
Despite the prosecution’s objections the appellate court said it “would be best” to “reconsider” all the facts of the case “after additional evidence … has (been produced) and dealt with”.
Chukwudi’s case will now be reassigned to a High Court judge following which it may be heard again on appeal by the appellate court.
The Nigerian arrived in Singapore from Lagos, on November 13, 2011, with a black suitcase in tow.
He passed the suitcase to Singaporean Hamidah Awang, who placed it in her car and drove to a checkpoint at Woodlands where the drugs were found in the suitcase after the car was searched.
Chukwudi was arrested in his hotel room the next day.
A High Court judge acquitted him in 2014, accepting that he did not know the suitcase contained drugs.
The prosecution appealed and in 2015, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and convicted him of trafficking methamphetamine.
02 August, 2017