2 Africans in Singapore face possible hanging for marijuana trafficking

Associated Press, 12 June 2007

Two Africans appeared in a Singapore court Tuesday, accused of trafficking more than 14 kilograms (31 pounds) of marijuana — about 28 times the amount that draws a mandatory death sentence by hanging.

Daka Guinea, 21, a Zambian woman, and Chijioke Stephen Obioha, 29, a Ghanaian man, were arrested April 9 after Guinea was allegedly caught handing the drugs over to Obioha at a budget hotel in an eastern Singapore red-light district.

Obioha also faces a second charge of possessing 6.6 kilograms (14 pounds) of marijuana in a stash allegedly found in his residence, and a third charge of consumption.

Singapore has some of the world’s toughest and most thoroughly enforced drug laws, with a mandatory death sentence for trafficking more than 15 grams (0.53 ounces) of heroin or 500 grams (17.64 ounces) of marijuana.

Guinea has been in contact with her family and Zambian consular officials — including Keli Walubita, High Commissioner to Singapore and former Zambian Foreign Minister — who has visited the woman in jail, her lawyers Shashi Nathan and Anand Nalachandran said outside the courtroom.

A pretrial court session was set for June 26.

The Southeast Asian city-state executed two African men, one Nigerian and the other stateless, on heroin trafficking charges in January despite clemency pleas by Nigeria’s president, the United Nations and human rights groups.

Human rights group Amnesty International has said Singapore has the world’s highest per capita execution rate. Singapore leaders say the tough system has saved the prosperous island nation from the drug scourge plaguing some of its neighboring countries.