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Hanged! - Singapore executes Tochi Iwuchukwu

Posted by Sun News Online on 2007/01/29 | Views: 2458 |

Hanged! - Singapore executes Tochi Iwuchukwu


The authorities in Singapore defied all pleas and entreaties from the international community and executed Nigerian, Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi early yesterday.

The authorities in Singapore defied all pleas and entreaties from the international community and executed Nigerian, Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi early yesterday.

The 21-year-old aspiring professonal footballer was convicted for drug trafficking – an offence which attracts the death penalty in Singapore.

Ironically the execution of Tochi who was caught with 727.02 grammes of heroine is coming few hours after another Nigerian and Nollywood actress Taiwo Hassanat Akinwande (aka Wunmi) was, in Lagos, handed a three-years-imprisonment sentence with an option of one million naira fine for owning up to attempting to traffick 1.214 kilogrammes of cocaine.

Tochi, who was convicted along with another man, Okeke Nelson Malachy who was initially described as a stateless, and later, as South African, was arrested at Singapore’s Changi Airport on 27 November 2004

Both men were convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which carries a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of trafficking in more than 15 grams of heroin.
Tochi maintained that the drugs found on him was given to him by one Mrs Smith who was supposed to help him get into a professional football club, and who told him the parcel actually contained documents for his career move.

Anambra State-born Tochi and his fellow convict had lost their appeal against a mandatory death sentence at the Court of Appeal on 16 March. Their only hope for clemency, subsequently, lay with the Singaporean President.
But the president and his government refused to waive the sentence or commute it to life jail, even in the face of pressure from Amnesty international and other civil society groups from all over the world. Tochi was killed early Friday morning and his body was cremated soon after.

Earlier in the week, President Olusegun Obasanjo had joined the plea for clemency for the Nigerian teenager when he official wrote his Singaporean counterpart, citing the long existing friendly relationship between Nigeria and Singapore. Obasanjo also hinged his call for a commutal of the death sentence on the ground that trial process was faulty and that enough ground existed for substantial doubt which ordinarily should make the case to be resolved in favour of the accused.

He said this was more so when the said Mrs Smith who vanished as soon as Tochi was arrested, had called the authorities in Singapore to confirm that she owned the parcel.
Obasanjo even alluded to the fact that the drug trafficking executions in Singapore had tended to always be carried out along racial lines, an allegation that has also been raised by the United Nations and several rights groups all over the world. Obasanjo’s plea, which many insist, came too late in the day, obviously, fell on deaf ears.

Tochi was the first to be arrested following a search of his luggage. He later identified Malachy, who reportedly does not have proof of current citizenship, as being involved during a subsequent police investigation.

Singapore’s position on the death sentence has always come under global criticism but locally, there is usually little public debate in Singapore about the death penalty, partly as a result of tight government controls on the press and civil society organisations. In his report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 24 March 2006, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, remarked:

"Measures taken by the Government of Singapore suggest an attempt to suppress public debate about the death penalty in the country. For example, in April 2005, the Government denied a permit to an Amnesty International official to speak at a conference on the death penalty organized by political opposition leaders and human rights activists... If public opinion really is an important consideration for a country, then it would seem that the Government should facilitate access to the relevant information so as to make this opinion as informed as possible".

The UN Special Rapporteur has previously called for the death penalty to be eliminated for drug-related offences and has argued that the mandatory nature of death sentence is a violation of international legal standards.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.