Establishing possession, custody and control through electronic baggage tags

  • Gita Radhakrishna


This article examines two contrary decisions arrived in two separate cases involving drugs found in concealed compartments in suitcases of passengers at airports in Malaysia. Central to both cases was the admissibility and authentication of electronically generated baggage tags, instrumental in identifying and linking the possession, custody and control of the bags to the alleged owners. The issue extends beyond the identification of the computer and its program that produced the electronic baggage tags to tracking the access to the bags from the initial baggage drop-off point of to its retrieval by the alleged owners. The cases illustrate the serious issues in establishing or disputing possession, custody and control in the face of insufficient corroborating evidence.

Index words: Malaysia; airline industry; airports; baggage handling; custody; possession; narcotics and crime; legal construction of identity