Human rights lawyer makes last-ditch bid to save drug trafficker from gallows

Syed Suhail, at right, and the letter he wrote to lawyer M Ravi. Photos: M Ravi/Facebook
Syed Suhail, at right, and the letter he wrote to lawyer M Ravi. Photos: M Ravi/Facebook

Update: Court grants stay of execution pending Syed’s appeal. 

Human rights lawyer M Ravi said today he is attempting to save a convicted drug trafficker from being executed Friday morning. 

Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin, 44, will be hanged to death in three days’ time and has asked the lawyer for help, a handwritten letter sent to the lawyer showed today. Ravi shared the letter online, saying that he was meeting Syed at Changi prison. He also called for public support “by appealing to the Cabinet to grant him clemency.” 

“Just received this moving letter from Suhail to visit him in prison. I will be visiting him on an urgent basis at 3pm at Changi Prison today together with my team. [I’m] acting pro bono and the only thing Suhail and my team have is HOPE,” the lawyer said.

Syed was arrested Aug. 3, 2011, and later convicted of trafficking under 40 grams of heroin, according to court documents. The judgment said that he was not able to prove that he had possessed the drugs for consumption, citing cost and financial difficulties. Syed had sold a packet of heroin to a man for S$5,700, the document stated. 

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, anyone in possession of more than 2 grams of heroin is presumed to have it for trafficking purposes unless they can prove otherwise. The sentence for drug trafficking is death.

“Death penalty is disproportionately applied against the poor and the disadvantaged section of society,” M Ravi wrote. “No justice system is [fool-proof] and hence the death penalty is not safe for it is irreversible.”

In his handwritten note, Syed said: “The insensitivity and the entirely new level of cruelty that decision makers have decided to unleash is felt more so by my loved ones even though it is directed at me.”

Syed said that he has family in Malaysia who are unable to visit him due to the ongoing border lockdown. 

“Mr M Ravi, I heard you could help. Come see me,” he added. 

Yesterday, the lawyer said that he was informed of Syed’s case through another client who was also facing the death penalty. Ravi said that Syed was “a victim of his own addiction which is a medical condition.”

“There has to be a better response than imposing death penalty on Suhail as he is a victim of his medical condition,” he wrote online. “I humbly urge everyone including the anti death penalty activists in Singapore and around the world to campaign to save Syed Suhail from being executed this Friday.”


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