A man has been sentenced to death via video teleconferencing app, Zoom.
Punithan Genasan, 37, received the sentence in Singapore on Friday for his role in a drug deal, which occurred in 2011.
This marks the first case where such a ruling has been done remotely in the city due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The vast majority of court hearings in Singapore have been adjourned until at least 1 June, when the city’s current lockdown period elapses.
Cases which have been deemed to be essential are being held via virtual means.
“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.
Genasan’s lawyer, Peter Fernando, said his client is considering an appeal.
Human rights groups argued that pursuing the death penalty at a time when the world is being gripped by a pandemic was “abhorrent”.
According to Amnesty International, the ruling is a “reminder that Singapore continues to defy international law and standards by imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking”.
Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, Asia, told the BBC: “It’s shocking the prosecutors and the court are so callous that they fail to see that a man facing capital punishment should have the right to be present in court to confront his accusers.”
Singapore is the second country known to have sentenced a suspect to death via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Justice Mojisola Dada of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, sentenced Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging for the murder of 76-year-old Jolasun Okunsanya, his employer’s mother.
The hearing lasted almost three hours and was virtually attended by the convict and lawyers, including Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, the state’s attorney general.