In what is likely the first time in the country, a man has been sentenced to death in Singapore via a Zoom call. reported Reuters. The death sentence was handed to the man for his role in a drug deal and marks the city-state’s first case where capital punishment has been delivered remotely.
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Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old Malaysian, was involved in a heroin transaction back in 2011. His sentence was made remotely because the country is currently under lockdown as it has one of the highest coronavirus rates in Asia.
“For the safety of all involved in the proceedings, the hearing for Public Prosecutor v Punithan A/L Genasan was conducted by video-conferencing,” a spokesperson for Singapore’s Supreme Court told Reuters.
The spokesperson added that the criminal case was the first death sentence given remotely in the country. Meanwhile, Genasan’s lawyer, Peter Fernando, revealed that he did not object to the use of Zoom in his client's case since it was only to receive the judge’s verdict.
There were no other legal arguments presented and the video-conferencing medium ensured that the verdict could be heard clearly. However, Fernando did say his client was seeking an appeal.
Singapore has adjourned many of its hearings during its lockdown period that is meant to last till June 1. Only those deemed necessary are taking place remotely.
The case might bring some added controversy to Zoom which has already been banned by companies like Google and SpaceX over security concerns. The firms were concerned about cases of so-called Zoombombing where uninvited attendees can crash calls and cause mayhem.
However, others are making use of Zoom even in legal settings such as the city of New York which is allowing people to wed over the video-conferencing app. When issuing the executive order, New York City Governor Andrew Cuomo said "There's now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage. No excuse. You can do it by Zoom."