A judge in Singapore has sentenced a man involved in a drug dealing to death on a Zoom video call—a move that was widely condemned by human rights groups as “abhorrent,” especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old Malaysian man, learned of his fate on Friday while he was behind bars. Genasan is accused of orchestrating a drug deal in 2011 by recruiting two couriers to deliver 28.5 grams of heroin, according to court documents. A spokesperson for Singapore’s Supreme Court confirmed the virtual hearing and said it was the first ever verdict of capital punishment delivered remotely in the country, which has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs.
“Singapore’s use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and the use of remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it even more so,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director for Human Rights Watch in Asia. “At a time when the global attention is focused on saving and protecting lives in a pandemic, the pursuit of the death penalty is all the more abhorrent,” said Chiara Sangiorgio of Amnesty International.