Drug Trafficking Case Remitted to HC for Psychiatric Evidence

Mohammad Azli bin Mohammad Salleh v Public Prosecutor and another appeal and other matters [2020] SGCA 39

Leaving No Stone Unturned: Roszaidi’s Case Remitted to Trial Judge For Further Psychiatric Evidence to be Taken

After a High Court trial, Roszaidi bin Osman was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death. We were not his lawyers at trial and were only appointed to act for him in his appeal against conviction and sentence. Upon reviewing the evidence, we realised that there was some evidence which suggested that Roszaidi had been suffering from various serious mental disorders at the time of offence. Roszaidi had not however pursued a defence of diminished responsibility at trial. If Roszaidi had pursued and successfully proved this defence, the trial Judge would have been bound to sentence Roszaidi to life imprisonment instead of death.

Despite coming in only after the trial, we succeeded in persuading the Court of Appeal that Roszaidi had a viable defence of diminished responsibility. The Court accepted that “the evidence in Roszaidi’s case clearly pointed towards the existence of mental disorders which could potentially have had an effect on his offending behaviour.” The Court remitted Roszaidi’s case to the trial Judge for further psychiatric evidence to be taken so that the defence of diminished responsibility can be properly evaluated.

Incidentally, this was also the first Court of Appeal hearing conducted virtually with all members of the Court, counsel, accused persons, and the media attending remotely.

In its judgment yesterday, the Court of Appeal reiterated that “[i]t is the duty of defence counsel to consider, at the earliest stage, whether their clients have a viable case under [either Section 33B(2) or 33B(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act], so that the necessary evidence may be adduced during the trial”.

Roszaidi’s case is now back before the High Court for psychiatric evidence to be taken before a final decision is made on whether Roszaidi is to be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.

Our team acting for Roszaidi includes  Suang Wijaya and Johannes Hadi. We also received invaluable assistance from LASCO-appointed assisting counsels Abdul Rahman bin Mohd Hanipah of Abdul Rahman Law Corporation, and Ms Shobna Chandran of Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP.