Two Dutch business people arrested in Singapore in 1991 for drug offences suffered remarkably different fates. First, Maria Krol-Hmelak was arrested in her hotel room after the police found 4 lb of heroin hidden inside machinery components. Five months later Johannes van Damme was arrested at Singapore airport. Police found three times that amount of heroin in the false bottom of his suitcase.

Neither of them knew the other, but before their arrest they had both lived in Nigeria.

At Maria Krol-Hmelak’s trial the prosecution demanded the death penalty – drug offences of that magnitude are a capital offence in Singapore – but very unexpectedly the judge decided to acquit her on the grounds that she had no idea what she was carrying. She left Singapore a free woman.

Van Damme wasn’t so lucky. He was found guilty and moved to Death Row. Appeals, petitions and legal arguments all having been exhausted, he was hanged on Friday, September 23rd, 1994, at Changi Prison.