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By Nischa Peiris

In 2007, Supatta Ruenrurng travelled to Laos from her native Thailand. There she purchased one and a half methamphetamine tablets weighing 0.17g and brought them back to Thailand for personal use. She was arrested at the border and charged with importing and possessing a category one drug under the 1979 Narcotics Act.

The court initially dismissed the importation charge on the basis that the minor quantity of drugs involved was for personal use and would not cause any harms to society. Supatta was sentenced to six months in prison (suspended for two years) and was issued a fine for possession. This sentence took into account the fact that she had confessed to possession for personal use, that it was her first offence and she was the mother of a child for whom she was the primary caregiver. However the prosecution contested this decision, and on appeal the court found her guilty of drug importation, handing her a sentence of 25 years behind bars, reduced from life imprisonment due to Supatta’s confession, with immediate effect. The Supreme Court affirmed this decision.

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