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Indian escapes noose for murder in Singapore

August 29, 2013 03:58 IST

A 37-year-old Indian death row convict escaped the noose after he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment by the high court following changes to the laws governing sentences for certain categories of murder.

Bijukumar Remadevi Nair Gopinathan was also given 18 strokes of the cane by Justice Choo Han Teck for stabbing to death a Filipino prostitute.

The former shipyard worker murdered Roselyn Reyes Pascua in her rented room on Bencoolen Street in Singapore's Central business district in March 2010.

Gopinathan became the third convicted murderer to be sentenced to life prison following changes to penal code, amended in November last year, which give judges the option of handing down life sentences for certain categories of murder.

Previously, the death penalty was mandatory in all murder cases.

Gopinathan had been convicted last March and his appeal was dismissed six months later.

The Court of Appeal had sent back Gopinathan's case to the high court for re-sentencing, Channel News Asia reported.

Gopinathan claimed he had stabbed the woman after she attacked him and refused to return money he had paid her for sexual services. She was found dead in the room.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Adrian Loo had asked the court to impose 24 strokes of the cane on Gopinathan, citing the amount of violence inflicted and the extensive injuries suffered by Pascua.

Loo pointed out that Gopinathan had knifed her in the heart, neck, abdomen and vagina. He said there was absence of any evidence that Gopinathan was suffering from any abnormality of the mind.

But Gopinathan's lawyers Shashi Nathan, Raphael Louis and Tania Chin asked for between 12 and 15 strokes of the cane.

They said there was no planning or pre-meditation involved in the incident, and pointed out that there was an element of provocation.

Gopinathan, who appeared expressionless throughout the hearing, exchanged a few words with his lawyers before being led away.

The amended penal code and Misuse of Drugs Act came into effect this year, removing the mandatory death penalty for certain types of homicide and drug trafficking offences in a move to "temper justice with mercy". 

Gurdip Singh
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