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Wellington Evening Post, New Zealand, 26 November 1981
Jail and cane for cannabis soldiers
SINGAPORE, No 25. -- Two New Zealand soldiers were sentenced today to three years' jail and three strokes of the rotan (cane) for selling cannabis at their military camp here.
Selwyn Hirini Kahukura, 26, of Wairoa, and Hugh Gordon Clark, 22, of Whangarei, were tried by a Singapore District Court after the New Zealand Army handed over the case to local authorities.
Both men, who belong to the New Zealand First Infantry Battalion stationed here under a regional defence arrangement, had pleaded guilty to selling a few sticks of cannabis to colleagues at their barracks late last year.
The two had earlier pleaded not guilty, but changed their plea after the New Zealand Defence Ministry refused their request for a military court martial. It was the first time New Zealand soldiers based here had been handed over to civilian courts for trial under Singapore's tough drug laws.
The defence lawyer, Mr Dennis Tan, who represented the two soldiers, said that Kahukura and Clark would either appeal to a higher court or seek clemency from Singapore's President Devan Nair within the next 10 days.
Appealing for the conditional discharge of the two men, Mr Tan told the court that the two unmarried soldiers were victims of a "spreading drug epidemic" in the New Zealand Army.
Even before they were posted to Singapore in 1979, the drug problem at the New Zealand Army's barracks here had reached unmanageable proportions despite efforts by military authorities, he said.
"Even the use of narcotics dogs did not help in stamping out drug abuse in the barracks. The New Zealand authorities became increasingly frustrated," he added.
This led the New Zealand Army to surrender its jurisdiction to the local Central Narcotics Bureau.
"They need not have done this," he added. "The New Zealand Army authorities want to make use of our law to punish their men and make an example to others indulging in drug abuse in their camp."
Mr Tan said Kahukura and Clark committed the offences inside their barracks under the control of the New Zealand Army, and did not involve any local population.
A total of 23 other soldiers also were arrested on drug charges in the camp, but all of them were sent for trial before an Army court martial.
District Judge Soon Kim Kwee ordered that the three-year jail sentence should begin from the time when the two soldiers were detained by the New Zealand Army about eight months ago.
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