A 50-year-old Malaysian of Indian descent escaped the gallows in Singapore after he was acquitted of drug trafficking charges by the High Court here on Wednesday, according to a media report.
Mangalagiri Dhruva Kumar, a driver by profession, was accused of driving into Singapore on May 16, 2014, and handing a bag containing heroin to a woman named Shanti Krishnan, The Straits Times reported.
In a written judgement, Justice Valerie Thean said the only evidence that Mangalagiri had supplied the drugs was Shanti's testimony.
But the judge concluded that Shanti's evidence was not reliable.
Justice Thean noted that Shanti was not able to recall the various events of the transactions well.
Shanti's testimony in court also deviated from her statements to narcotics officers, taken in the days following her arrest in May 2014.
Prosecutors produced phone records showing a total of six calls between Shanti and Mangalagiri on May 16, 2014 and on April 19, 2014. But the judge said at most, this showed that the two knew each other.
Prosecutors also raised instances of suspicious behaviour by Mangalagiri, including a large volume of calls between him and an unknown number shortly after Shanti's arrest.
Prosecutors alleged that the number belonged to Mangalagiri's handler and argued that it was difficult to believe his claim that he did not know whose number it was.
But Justice Thean said the circumstantial evidence did not help to prove that it was Mangalagiri who had given the drugs to Shanti.
"In my judgement, the accused's guilt on the charge framed has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt," said the judge.
On May 16, 2014, Central Narcotics Bureau officers arrested Shanti along Ang Mo Kio Street 61 and found 8,200 Singapore dollar in cash on her. They also arrested Zainudin Mohamed, to whom she had passed the drugs.
The bottom of the rubbish chute at Zainudin's flat was found to contain 22.73g of heroin.
Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act calls for the death penalty when the quantity of heroin trafficked exceeds 15 gram.
Shanti and Zainudin were convicted in September 2016. Shanti is serving a life term, while Zainudin has been executed.
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