Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
On Tuesday 16 July 2013, Fabian Adiu Edwin became the first death-row inmate to get his sentence commuted after his case was reviewed at the High Court under the new amendments to the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act, which allows judges to exercise judicial discretion by taking mitigating factors into consideration. In his judgment, High Court judge Chan Seng Onn considered Fabian’s young age at the time of his crime and his sub-normal intellect as mitigating factors and re-sentenced him to life imprisonment, plus 24 strokes of the cane.
Now I have been following this case since it was first reported in 2009. To a legal layperson like me, it was clearly a robbery gone wrong and in addition, Fabian’s sub-normal intellect should have granted him diminished responsibility. However when he was tried and sentenced in 2011, judge Chan disagreed with the Defence that Fabian should be tried with the consideration of diminished responsibility as the Defence could not produce evidences that he was suffering from an abnormality of mind at the time of the crime. Judge Chan also found inconsistency in Fabian’s statements when asked if he had intended to hurt the victim. Therefore, Fabian was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced with the mandatory death sentence under 300(c) of the Penal Code. His co-accused, Ellary bin Puling, was found guilty of robbery with hurt and escaped being sentenced with the mandatory death sentence as judge Chan did not find common intent between Fabian and Ellary.
While I am genuinely grateful for the decision to overturn Fabian’s death sentence, I am dismayed by the fact that he will still have to face 24 strokes of the cane. In my opinion, caning constitutes torture and in a first world country like Singapore, we should be more enlightened about that fact and look towards alternative and humane ways of punishing and rehabilitating criminals. Furthermore, Fabian has been certified to be of sub-normal intellect and was said to be lowly educated, which could have contributed to his gross misconduct. Looking at all his circumstances, Fabian obviously falls within the marginalised. Do we want to become a country that treats the marginalised in such a barbaric and inhumane manner?
Well I think we seriously need to reflect on that.
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