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Judicial CP - August 1996

Borneo Bulletin, 19 August 1996

Court throws out appeal of "drugs in pants" case

By Heidi Sia

A drugs-in-the-pants cook will have to stay in jail for five years and receive five strokes of the rotan, the Brunei High Court sitting as court of appeal has ruled.

Malaysian Ruslan bin Abdul Hamid, working in Brunei as a cook, faced the charge of importing 4.9 grammes of cannabis here on June 9 this year.

Judge Edward De Beauvoir Bewley, was told that Ruslan was arrested at the Brunei International Airport on arrival from Kuala Lumpur when customs officers found a small plastic packet of cannabis leaves in the pocket of a pair of jeans in his luggage.

Ruslan in denying the charge claimed that he had been framed by his friends who were jealous of him.

He told the court is friends helped him pack his bag on June 6 and that he had been sharing a room with two friends and had lent hem clothes to wear.

The blue jeans found by customs officers had been worn by a friend called "Zaharuddin". At the airport in Kuala Lumpur, three of his friends took the bag on a trolley to the X-ray machine while Ruslan was talking to his family, the court heard.

When customs officers found the packet of leaves and asked him what was in it, Ruslan took and smelt it and replied, "Cannabis", Deputy Public Prosecutor Yusree bin Hj Junaidi told the court.

Ruslan admitted bringing into Brunei the bag containing the jeans but said he was unaware of the presence of the drugs.

He suggested that his friends "Zaharuddin", who had been using the jeans, may have been a cannabis user and had inadvertently left the drug in the pocket.

But the judge disbelieved his story and rejected as farfetched Ruslan's story about the use of his jeans by his friends and the packing of the dirty clothes.

It did not explain why Ruslan did not pack all of his bag himself, which would have taken only a few minutes.

The judge added that even if his friends had intended to get Ruslan into trouble, they could not have anticipated a close search of his belongings. They would also not have hidden the cannabis in a trouser pocket.

Ruslan further argued that if he were intentionally smuggling drugs, he would have hidden it and not placed the jeans at the top of the case.

The judge, however, said for such a small quantity, a trouser pocket was as good a hiding place as any. There was no prosecution evidence as to the placement of the jeans in the case but, even if the defendant had been right, he would scarcely have expected a minute search of his belongings.

The judge in conclusion said he was impressed by the prosecution witnesses and was satisfied that their evidence was true.

Borneo Bulletin, 29 August 1996

Trafficker gets 12 years, cane

By Heidi Sia

A 31-year-old local has been sentenced to 12 years' jail and 10 strokes of the rotan in the Brunei High Court for trafficking in cannabis.

Amin bin Tahir was produced before Judge Eward De B. Bewley on charges of possessing 208.62 grammes of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking, consuming cannabinol metabolite, a class A controlled drug, and consuming codeine, a class B controlled drug.

He pleaded guilty to the charge of consuming codeine but denied the other charges and claimed trial.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yusree bin Hj Junaidi told the court that Amin was arrested on April 25 this year in his house in Kampong Sumbiling Lama, Kg Ayer.

Prosecution witness Senior Narcotics Officer Haji Sulaiman testified that 8 NCB officers entered the house, found the defendant inside, and saw him throwing a black bag out of the window. He then struggled with the defendant and with the help of another officer, Hj Sabtu, subdued and handcuffed Amin.

Two other officers who were waiting in a boat retrieved the black plastic bag and a bottle thrown out of the house. They found a number of small packets of dried leaves and some loose leaves in the bag and bottle.

Another bottle containing dried leaves was also found in the search and a video cassette which contained two packets of what was subsequently proved to be cough mixture was also found in his room.

Chief Scientific Officer, Mr Keasberry, who analysed the exhibits found in Amin's house, certified that all the bottles contained a total of 129 packets of cannabis, which weighed 208.6215 grammes.

Amin's urine sample was also found to contain codeine and cannabinol metabolite.

In passing sentence, the judge said there was nothing to be considered by way of mitigation. The drug was clearly going to be sold in Brunei.

Amin asked for leniency but the judge detected no remorse, and sentenced him to 12 years 10 strokes for trafficking in cannabis, 9 months and 6 months' jail for consuming cannabinol metabolite and codeine respectively. The sentences are to run concurrently.

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� Colin Farrell