I'd like to share the story of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, a young Nigerian footballer.

In 2007, at the age of 21, Tochi was hanged in #Singapore.
Tochi was arrested in Changi Airport in #Singapore on 27 November 2004. He was 18 years old.

He was later charged with importing not less than 727.02g of heroin. His case largely revolved around whether he could rebut the presumption clauses within the Misuse of Drugs Act.
What are these presumption clauses? First: if you have more than 2g of heroin, Section 17 of #Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act (here: sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/MDA1973#pr…) presumes that you are trafficking the drugs.
Second: Section 18 of the Misuse of Drugs Act states that if you're found in possession or custody of anything containing a controlled drug (like heroin), you're presumed to have known the nature of the drug.
What this meant for Tochi: having >2g of heroin on him meant the law already presumed that he was trafficking. In his defence, he tried to rebut the presumption in Section 18 by arguing that he *did not* know that what he was carrying was heroin.
But let's back up first, and take a look at who Tochi was. He was arrested in Changi Airport at age 18. He'd left school when he was 14, and played football in #Nigeria and #Senegal. After returning home from Senegal, he wanted to go play in #Dubai.
Tochi travelled to #Pakistan, hoping to go to #Dubai from there, but ended up getting stranded. There, he met a man named Smith, who offered to help him. But even with Smith's help, he wasn't able to enter Dubai. So Smith offered to help him get to #Singapore instead.
Although he had no arrangements with any football clubs in #Singapore, Tochi hoped that once he arrived, he could approach the football federation for help, and that he could get trials with the clubs and hopefully play here.
Smith, in helping Tochi get to #Singapore, asked him to deliver something to a sick friend, Marshall, who would fly from #Indonesia and meet him in the transit area of Changi Airport. Marshall would give him money; in police statements, the amount was written down as US$2,000.
Tochi arrived in #Singapore and went to Terminal 2 of Changi Airport, but didn't find Marshall. When he called Smith, he was told that Marshall had missed his flight, and that he should check into the transit hotel to wait.
Tochi tried to check into the transit hotel. When a room became available, the hotel supervisor realised he'd already been in the transit area >24hrs, and was supposed to return to #Dubai 3 days later. She called the airport police, as per procedure. Tochi waited.
When his bags were searched, the police found the capsules that Smith had given to Tochi for Marshall. At first he said they were chocolate, but later said they were herbs. He even swallowed a capsule to show them — and had to be sent to hospital to get the capsule purged.
At trial, his defence counsel argued that Tochi hadn't known he was carrying heroin. Why would he have swallowed a capsule (containing a potentially lethal amount of heroin) if he knew? Why did he wait for the airport police to arrive w/o trying to hide/dispose of the capsules?
In the High Court judgment, the judge agreed that there was no direct evidence that Tochi knew that the capsules were heroin.

But remember the presumption clause: it's not for the prosecution to prove that he knew. It's for Tochi to prove that he didn't know.
The judge reasoned that because Tochi had been offered a rather large sum of money to deliver things to Marshall, he should have suspected that it was something dodgy, and should have asked more questions, or checked the capsules himself.
The judge was also not persuaded by Tochi's young age. He said that since Tochi left school at 14 and played football professionally, he was "not a simple sheltered boy fresh out of his village" and was "rich in life experiences for someone of 18 years."
On this basis, the judge found that he'd been wilfully blind, and that even if he really hadn't known the capsules were heroin, ignorance was not a defence because he should have suspected something was up, and should have checked.

Tochi was given the mandatory #deathpenalty.
In 2006, the Court of Appeal upheld Tochi's conviction and sentence. President S.R. Nathan denied his plea for clemency.

An independent @UN expert called on #Singapore not to execute Tochi, emphasising that one should be innocent until proven guilty: news.un.org/en/story/2007/…
Olesegun Obasanjo, then the Nigerian president, appealed to Prime Minister @leehsienloong for Tochi's life to be spared. Lee refused, citing "a duty to safeguard the interests of Singaporeans". smh.com.au/world/young-to…
Tochi, aged 21, was hanged in Changi Prison on 26 January 2007. Also executed on that day was Okele Nelson Malachy (a.k.a. Marshall, the man he was to have delivered the capsules to).

"How small the coffin was!" a friend recently remarked as she recalled his funeral. #RIP
You can read the High Court judgment I've used as the main source for this thread here: supremecourt.gov.sg/docs/default-s…
If you're a Singaporean and would like to express your support for the abolition of the #deathpenalty, please sign and share this petition: change.org/p/president-ha…
Added today: Rozman bin Jusoh's story

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More from @kixes

26 Jan
Today: A protest by Singaporeans against transphobia in the education system.
They've issued a statement and are using the hashtag #FixSchoolsNotStudents
Within minutes security officers have shown up saying that photos can't be taken and asking them to leave. 2 protesters have left but 3 remain. #FixSchoolsNotStudents
Read 28 tweets
23 Sep 20
This was brought to light on Monday. In an @STcom piece on Syed’s hearing, this is what the Ministry of Home Affairs had to say about the correspondence:

Turns out their position is there was no legal prohibition against sending privileged communication to the adverse party. Image
This is the @STcom story I got the screenshot from: straitstimes.com/singapore/cour… I believe the original headline was "Lawyer M Ravi seeks to delay drug trafficker's execution", but the story has since been amended to highlight the government's view/response.
According to Syed, the prison is executing Singaporeans first during #COVID19 since the families of foreigners can't visit. This, @MRavilaw argued, breaches Article 12 of #Singapore's Constitution that says all are equal before the law 'cos it treats lives differently.
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep 20
Some thoughts after observing the hearing for Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin today. Screenshots from my Facebook page since it's long and not particularly conducive to a thread. #deathpenalty #Singapore ImageImageImageImage
And one on what we know about how death row inmates' clemency petitions are considered in #Singapore.

tl;dr We don't know anything Image
Ultimately, I was very glad that the Court of Appeal decided to give both sides time to file further submissions, and that the next hearing will not take place before 7 October, thus giving Syed more time with his family. But these are the points I'm not pondering.
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep 20
Will be in court this afternoon for Syed’s hearing. 30k+ have signed a petition calling for clemency, he received a stay of execution, and the prison sent his privileged communication w/ his lawyer to the prosecution.

There has been no coverage by the local mainstream media.
Here's the @SCMPNews story on the hearing from @deweysim and @jbhavan: scmp.com/week-asia/poli…
Read 4 tweets
21 Sep 20
In 2018, #Singapore Prison Service forwarded 4 letters Syed wrote to his uncle + 1 letter he wrote to his then-DEFENCE COUNSEL to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

At that time, Syed’s capital case was before the Court of Appeal. AGC was the prosecution. wethecitizens.substack.com/p/when-the-pri…
The Community Action Network and #Singapore Anti-#DeathPenalty Campaign have issued a statement: singaporecan.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/que…

There needs to be an independent investigation into and accounting for this clear breach of inmates’ privacy, and in Syed’s case, solicitor-client privilege.
From an August 2020 Court of Appeal judgment, we learn that this wasn’t an isolated case. Another death row inmate, Datchinamurthy, complained that the prison had, w/o consent, forwarded to the AGC documents given to him by his family.

From para 84: supremecourt.gov.sg/docs/default-s…
Read 10 tweets
20 Sep 20
You know you’re in #Singapore when “WE ARE WATCHING YOU” ad campaigns about people snitching is considered a big positive. Calling the police is a national pastime ImageImage
While Singaporeans are encouraged to watch and report one another, who is watching the government, state organs, and other organisations with power?
Just to state for clarity, I never said that people shouldn’t ever report crimes; I’m pointing out that it isn’t great for social cohesion if we constantly promote a culture/narrative in which we are encouraged to monitor and police one another.
Read 5 tweets

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