2 Drug Traffickers Scheduled to be Executed Granted Respite from President Halimah


Last Updated on 2022-02-21 , 4:28 pm

There is some clemency in this world that can hold off the death penalty.

A pair of drug traffickers by the names of Roslan Bakar and Pausi Hefridin, who were originally scheduled to be hanged on Wednesday (16 February), were granted respite by President Halimah Yacob, thus putting off their executions for an unstated length of time.

The surprising turn of events came after the lawyers for the 51-year-old Roslan Bakar and 37-year-old Pausi Jefridin filed a court challenge against their death sentences after the Court of Appeal dismissed two desperate last-ditch attempts in the days prior.

The Singaporean and Malaysian had been convicted in 2010.

The Clauses of the Respite

The respite order was made under Article 22P(1) of the Constitution and Section 313(h) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Article 22P(1)  refers to the Grant of Pardon, where “The President, as occasion shall arise, may, on the advice of the Cabinet— (b) grant to any offender convicted of any offence in any court in Singapore, a pardon, free or subject to lawful conditions, or any reprieve or respite, either indefinite or for such period as a President may think fit, of the execution of any sentence pronounced on such offender.”

Under Section 313(h) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the President is allowed to order a respite of the execution of the warrant at any time before the warrant is carried out, and afterwards appoint some other time or other place for its execution.

However, a respite is not equivalent to a pardon, where an offender would be wholly spared.

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Prior to the Grant of Respite

Before the Grant of Respite came down, the lawyers for Roslan and Pausi had seized even the last precious days to file court applications, one after another, to stave off their executions.

The first application requested that the Court of Appeal review its 2018 decision to uphold the pair’s death sentence, but it was dismissed on Tuesday (15 Feb).

The second application was to start a judicial review proceeding as the death sentences were seen as unconstitutional, but it was also dismissed on Wednesday.

In both appeals, Lawyer Charles Yeo insisted that Roslan and Pausi were intellectually disabled, thereby of unsound mind; incapable of knowing what they were doing was either morally or legally wrong, or incapable of comprehending the nature of their actions.

When the two attempts failed, another lawyer by the name of Violet Netto, filed a third application.

The latest application sought a declaration that the manner in which the death penalty is carried out in Singapore was unconstitutional.

The hearing was supposed to be held on Thursday (17 Feb), but was adjourned to 28 Feb, after Ms Netto submitted a medical certificate that showed that she was unwell.


Timeline of the Court Proceedings

On 14 June 2008, Roslan and Pausi were charged with trafficking approximately 96,07g of heroin.

In accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1973, Second Schedule on Offences Punishable on Conviction, “Unauthorised traffic in controlling drug contain such quantity of diamorphine (otherwise known as heroinbeing more than 15 grammes,” is enough to mete out the death penalty.

On 22 April 2010, the pair were convicted and given the mandatory death sentence after a 15-day trial.

Over the years, their attempts at challenging the death penalty have been to no avail.

In June 2016, they applied to be given life imprisonment instead, arguing that they were suffering from an abnormality of the mind.


A defence psychiatrist’s assessment of Pausi showed that he only had an IQ of 67, while another psychiatrist evaluated that Roslan had borderline intelligence.

However, in a judgement carried out on 13 November 2016, the High Court found that the men’s conduct and their own testimonies exhibited that they were “functioning in ways no different from people with higher IQ level in relation to the drug offences”.

For their case, the Court observed that Roslan was the central figure in the drug transaction as he manipulated the moving part, whilst Pausi was able to deliver the drugs across borders and didn’t face any difficulties when participating in the operations.

With how their death penalties have remained unchanged despite exhausting different methods and filing numerous appeals over 12 years, it’s unknown if their sentences will be overturned or changed during the unstated period of respite given by President Halimah Yacob.

At the very least, they have to wait until 28 February to find out.

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Featured Image: Shutterstock / Zerbor