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Singaporean woman faces death by firing squad in China after drugs were found in goods she transported for Nigerian man



Singaporean woman faces death by firing squad in China after drugs were found in goods she transported for Nigerian man

A 35-year-old Singaporean woman, Siti Aslinda Binte Junaidi, has been sentenced to death by firing squad and will be executed in a few weeks unless a court is able to overturn the judgment that has drawn condemnation from the international community.

Junaidi and another of her countryman, Mohd’ Yusri Bin Mohd Yussof, were arrested in 2015 in Shenzhen, China, after methamphetamine were found in goods they were transporting for a certain Nigerian man identified as Chibuzor Onwuka, a man she claimed to have met online.

Junaidi and Yusof were both found guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in July 2020, but Yusof’s death sentence was suspended for two years, which could later be commuted to a life imprisonment.

According to CNN, Aslinda’s death sentence appeal did not find merit with the court as she apparently played a more active role in the crime and now faces certain execution if her final appeal is not successful.

Aslinda and Yusof were arrested by Custom officials in Shenzhen on October 24, 2015 and a search of their suitcases revealed 28 women’s handbags containing more than 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of methamphetamine stitched into the lining. The drugs were valued at $220,000 at the time.

Read also: Indonesia slams Muslim leader with death sentence

Both Aslinda and Yusof denied any knowledge of the drugs, saying the Nigerian only told them the items were bags meant for sale in Cambodia.

During her arraignment, Aslinda told the court that while looking for jobs online in late 2014, she met Onwuka who offered her generous commissions to transport goods from China to Cambodia. Around once or twice a month, Aslinda said she would pick up goods in Guangzhou and fly with them to Phnom Penh.

The goods she transported, according to her, were usually women’s lingerie, handbags and toner cartridges, and while Aslinda admitted to having doubts about the scheme, she told the court she was convinced by Onwuka’s explanation that the handbags were highly profitable as they were sold to prominent Cambodians.

In July 2015, Aslinda introduced Yusri to Onwuka and they began carrying goods together, with Onwuka paying them between $2,000 to $3,000 per trip, and also covered their airfare and hotel bills. By the time they were arrested, they’d done two trips together.

At trial, the judge rejected the pair’s arguments that they didn’t know what was in the handbags, ruling that they were either aware or should have been aware of the contents given the unusually high remuneration for transporting goods overseas.

The convoluted way in which they were told to travel from Guangzhou to Hong Kong via Shenzhen then Phnom Penh should also have raised suspicion, the judge said, as direct flights were available to the Cambodian capital.

Aslinda’s case is being appealed to the Guangdong High Court, her legal team said. If the court does not overturn the judgment, her death penalty could be carried out within weeks.

Meanwhile, back in Singapore, her family is trying desperately to save her from this fate, through diplomatic channels and the Chinese legal system, where acquittals are incredibly rare.

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