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PUCL, September 2003

Threat of imminent execution in Singapore

Arunprakash Vaithilingam: Indian worker hanged in Singapore for murder
Agence France Presse, October 3, 2003, Singapore

External links for more information

-- Dr. Suresh, Gen. Secretary, PUCL-TN/Pondicherry
email: sursaila@md4.vsnl.net.in

Arun Prakash Vaithilingam, a young Indian aged 25 years has been convicted for murder by a Sinagaopre court and mercy petitions have all been dismissed. The date of execution is 3 October 2003. There are a number of serious discrpancies in the evidence in the case which mitigate against the death sentence.

Especially the fact that after the sudden manner in which the incident took place, the accused person himself took the injured person to the hospital.

See details below.

I request you to circulate the attached document with the request that we launch a wide email campaign appealing to the Singapore government to stop the execution and grant clemency.

The execution date has been fixed for 3rd October, 2003 in Singapore.

APPEAL TO ALL EMAIL RECIPIENTS
Please send email to (1) President of India (2) Prime Minister of India, (3) Foreign Minister and (4) Law Minister of India and (5) Consulate of India in
Singapore. (Addresses and other contact information)


Additionally to send appeals also to the President of SIngapore.

Arun Prakash Vaithilingam

CRIMINAL CASE NO.60 OF 2002
(on the file of High Court of Singapore)


Facts
Sri. Arun and the deceased Lenin and other prosecution witness were flat mates at a flat at Marsiling and they were all fellow electricians working in a shipping yard. A lorry used to pick them up to the work spot and drop them in return in the evening every day.

On 22/12/2001 in the morning when they were going to the work spot in the lorry PW Palvannan overheard a remark by the deceased Lenin about the accused Arun.The said witness advised he deceased not talk ill of the accussed. A scuffle ensued between them but was diffused by others.

That evening Arun had returned to the flat at 11.00 pm after his visit to the groceries shop for Christmas purchase help of his employer and then went to a coffee shop with his colleagues for drinks. They all had beer and in an inebriated mood.

Then at about 11.30 hrs Arun Prakash Vaithilingam went to see the deceased Lenin and asked about morning incident. Altercations seems to have started between them and all others collected there tried to pacify them. Arun then saw a kitchen knife in the kitchen next to his room and picked it up and during the sudden fight between him and the deceased Lenin he has stabbed Lenin in the chest. Immediately along with others Arun took him to the Alexandra Hospital where Lenin was pronounced dead at 01.02 hrs on 23/12/2001. Arun was arrested on 18/03/2002 at Causeway Check point, when he attempted to leave the country. Then he was charged with the murder of Lenin. and convicted for an offence u/s.302 SPC and sentenced to death. Criminal Appeal No.60 of 2002 was dismissed and the sentence of death has been confirmed. It is learnt that the President of Singapore rejected a mercy petition filed on his behalf.

A. Prosecution has stated that Arun went straight to the Kitchen after failining to get PW Palvannan and picked up a knife from the kitchen and went to Lenin’s room. He woke up Lenin and picked up a quarrel, followed by a minor scuffle. Then Lenin was stabbed by Arun in the chest, which resulted in his death.

B. Arun in his Statement has stated that he had gone unarmed to Lenin’s room. (PW Pugalmani has also corroborated this version But after hustled out by Subramani and one or two others towards his room, he was pushed into the kitchen room which was next to his room. he took a kitchen knife only to frighten Lenin. (Pw Leo has also found to ask Arun “Hey! Why are you taking the knife while talking? Just drop it”) Pw Subramani .PW Pillai held his right arm and Pw Palvannan held by his T-shirt restrained him. At the same time, PWs Pugalmani and Nagaraj were trying to force Lenin to sit on the bed who kept getting up. While he was struggling to free himself he had knife in his right hand and he remembers that in the scuffle he swing it to his left hand a momement before he was not aware of that he had injured anyone at that time. The first inkling that he had done so was when he blood at the tip of the blade when he hustled out of Lenin’s room.


C. Wordy quarrel-exchange of abusive words –drunken mood-aroused heat and passion.
The Learned Judge has admitted that there is evidence that there was a quarrel between these Arun and Lenin -“ The evidence reveals that when Arun eventually confronted Lenin the substance of their verbal exchange was minimal and the witnesses’ recollection was more of vulgarities than the quarrel”. -Para 9 at page 8.

This reveals that there is a heat of passion arosed by the vulgar words exchanged between the two. It was further held by the Learned Judge that” in the event, however, the potentially useful information was not adduced.” In Para 13 the Appellate Court has held that “a fight is fight-and here I do not think that the Legislature had verbal fights in mind-“ which may be incorrect when the words in Exception No.4 to Sec.302 SPC states the Culpable homicide is not a murder when it is committed with out premeditation in a sudden fight, in the heat of passion upon a quarrel”-A wordy quarrel is also lead to unforeseen consequences.

The Court of Appeal has stated and found that “In this regard, I will give Arun the benefit of doubt and hold that in my view the quarrel was sudden”-page 16.

D. Nature of injury
Learned Judge has found that the Solitary blow was fatal and Lenin died from it. Of that, there is no dispute. Para4.”There is no dispute that Lenin died of stab wound inflicted by Arun.Nor it is disputed that the injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Therefore Arun’s act is murder unless he succeeds in his defence”. Para.10.

E. But it is found in para 4 of appeal judgment that “Dr.Paul Chui, the pathologist has described in detail the damage caused by the knife. The blade cut through about 11 to 19 cm of tissue, although the heart itself is not perforated, two important vessels, the main pulmonary artery and the left pulmonary vein were cut.”

F. Slash injury
The kind of injury is a slash or a cut injury caused during the scuffle and it is in consonance with the Statement of Accused Arun. “From photograph of the entry wound –IT APPEARS TO ME THAT BLADE PIERCED LENIN’S CHEST HORIZONTALLY (CONSISTANT WITH THE KNIFE BEING HELD AS THE PWS SAID) AND NOT VERTICALLY”-PARA 11 OF JUDGMENT.
But it is found in last 3 lines of Para 12 “I accept the evidence of Arun’s flat mates unequivocally describing Arun’s motion of stabbing Lenin to be deliberate one. I therefore reject the submission that Lenin was unwittingly or unintentionally stabbed.”

However, it is submitted that there is no consistency in this findings. It is not an intentional single vertical stab to pierce the heart to cause death. The nature of injury reveals that it is accidental.

G. The Court of Appeal has agreed with the ruling of decision –PP v Ramasamy, and held this case is not similar to that case.

H. There is a major difference in evidence about whether Arun took the knife and went to the room of Lenin or went first to Lenin’s room and later during the quarrel when he was pushed into the kitchen he came back with the kitchen knife to threaten Lenin? -Para7 of Appeal Judgment. But held in this Arun went to instigate the fight armed beforehand. In such circumstances, it is of the Opinion that he cannot avail himself the defence under Exception 4, because he had taken an unfair advantage over the unarmed Lenin.

 

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