Indian-origin Malaysian man jailed for life in Singapore

Singapore: A 30-year-old Indian-origin Malaysian man has been jailed for life in Singapore along with 24 strokes of cane-lashing for smuggling drugs.

Saravanan Chandaram, 30, who pleaded guilty to two charges of importing the controlled drugs, also received the maximum 24 strokes of the cane, the Straits Times reported.

The prosecution submitted a certificate to the court stating that Saravanan was only a drug courier and had substantively helped the authorities to disrupt drug trafficking.

This gave the judge the discretion to impose a life sentence instead of the mandatory death penalty.

Saravanan was found with 10 bundles containing at least 1.38 kilogrammes of cannabis, and at least 3.29 kilogrammes of cannabinol and cannabinol derivative.

On November 5, 2014, he rented a car and met a drug syndicate leader, known only as Aya, in Skudai in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, where he collected the 10 bundles of drugs.

Saravanan, who worked for Aya as his bodyguard and personal driver, hid the bundles under the armrest of the rear passenger seat.

Defence lawyer Singa Retnam, in his closing submissions to the court last month, said that Saravanan had borrowed Malaysian Ringgit 4,000 (Singapore dollars 1,270) from Aya as he did not have enough savings for his son’s operation.

When Saravanan returned to Johor on November 5, 2014, he was asked by Aya to repay the money, but he could not do so immediately, the Strait Times report said.

He had no choice but to adhere to his boss’s demands and agreed to deliver 10 packets of tobacco, for Malaysian Ringgit 2,000, according to the defence’s submissions.

The defence said that Saravanan believed he was delivering 10 packets of tobacco, instead of cannabis.

However, the prosecution said that Saravanan’s belief was unfounded when there were clearly suspicious circumstances surrounding the delivery of the drugs.

There were also inconsistencies in his account as he had initially said he was promised Singapore dollars 5,000 for the delivery, but later claimed he was promised Malaysian Ringgit 2,000.

The prosecution noted that Saravanan was being paid a disproportionately high amount of Singapore dollars 5,000 for a relatively simple task of delivery.