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Tuesday
Dec062005

26,000 Hits of Heroin!

Tuesday December 6
Paris

A different perspective on the hanging of the 25 year old Aussie guy caught in Singapore Transit Lounge with nearly 400g of high-grade Heroin. From Dave writing in the Sydney Morning Herald's RADAR blog.

Socially, exaggeration is often whimsical. But when a government dramatically inflates numbers to help justify a death sentence, the integrity of both the trial and its governing body becomes questionable. In this case, the government is Singapore, the trial was for Van Tuong Nguyen, and the bloated number is 26,000.

Press from around the world quotes Abdullah Tarmugi, the Speaker of Singapore Parliament, in writing about the potential consequences of Van's actions, "almost 400 grams of pure heroin, enough for more than 26,000 doses."

But how was 26,000 doses (or "hits") derived?

It turns out that what constitutes a hit of heroin is not an easy thing to count. There are dozens of factors to consider; contact your local Needle Exchange for a comprehensive list. However, after collecting statistics from over a dozen sources (including police reports, narcotics web sites, health information, and workers from needle exchanges), the number of hits from a gram of pure heroin averages out to little more than 14.

Van Tuong Nguyen trafficked 396.2 grams of heroin into Singapore. This is approximately 5,600 doses.

The numbers 5,600 and 26,000 are obviously incongruous, as are reports that 400 grams of heroin would "ruin 26,000 lives". In fact, 400 grams of heroin would not come close to ruining even 5,600 lives. Rather, the heroin would most likely supply people already abusing it. With a little more research, we can estimate how many lives would be adversely affected by 400 grams of heroin during one year:

As many as 67, and as few as 6.

Van Tuong Nguyen would not have sent 26,000 people to their deaths from 400 grams of heroin. Nor would the lives of 26,000 people have been ruined. Far more likely is that six people would get a year's worth of hits. And for this he was executed?

Call it dreadful, call it dense, call it incomprehensible ... but do not call it justice.

Posted by: Dave at December 4, 2005

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