A man in Singapore is going to be hanged for bringing three bundles of cannabis into the country. Omar Yacob Bamadhaj, 41, lost an appeal Tuesday of a sentence handed down in February. In July 2018, Bamadhaj had hopped across the border from the tiny city-state into Malaysia to run errands and go to a mosque with his father. While there, he ran into some acquaintances at a car wash who gave him three bundles wrapped in newspaper, plastic wrap, and foil. How that went down is where the trouble lies. In his appeal, Bamadhaj said he in fact did not know the bundles contained about a kilogram of cannabis, which is very illegal in Singapore, but he initially confessed when the police first questioned him, Channel News Asia reports. Later, he said his acquaintances put the bundles into his car without his knowledge.
Police pulled the car over shortly after midnight. His dad, who was driving, was off the hook; police believed him when he said he had no idea there was cannabis in the car. Bamadhaj told police that he had been offered 500 Singapore dollars per bundle to carry the drugs into the city-state, that he thought about it for 20 minutes before agreeing, and said he was “desperate for money.” But he retracted the confession five days later. In his appeal, he said the Central Narcotics Bureau officers coerced him. He said they threatened to hang both him and his father. He said he had been high when he said those things.
Amnesty International condemned the decision to dismiss Bamadhaj’s appeal. “Singapore authorities have violated international safeguards and sentenced yet another person convicted of drug trafficking to death by hanging,” Chiara Sangiorgio, a death penalty advisor for the NGO said per Vice. Just last year, another Singaporean was sentenced to die by hanging in a drug case—via a Zoom call. Singapore’s residents apparently feel the draconian laws make it one of the safest places in the world. (Read more death penalty stories.)