Singapore executes mentally disabled man despite worldwide protests

SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA-RIGHTS-DISABLED-DRUGS
People display posters and lights during a vigil for Malaysian national Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin to Singapore, at Speakers corner in Singapore on April 25, 2022. He was executed two days later.

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images


Singapore on Wednesday executed a mentally disabled Malaysian convicted of a drug offense after a court rejected a last-minute plea from his mother and international requests to spare him.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, had been on death row for more than a decade after he was convicted of smuggling around 30 grams of heroin to Singapore. The city-state government said the use of the death penalty for drug crimes is clear across its borders.

Nagaenthran’s family and social activists confirmed the execution on Wednesday.

“In that sense, I can declare that Malaysia is much more humane,” said her sister Sarmila Dharmalingam. “Zero for Singapore on that.”

Nagaenthran’s advocates and lawyers said he had an IQ of 69 and was intellectually disabled, and that the execution of a mentally ill person was prohibited under international human rights law.

Singapore courts ruled, citing the testimony of psychiatrists in court, that he was not mentally handicapped and had understood his actions at the time of the crime.

“Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice,” said Maya Foa, director of the non-governmental organization Reprieve.

SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA-RIGHTS-DISABLED-DRUGS
People gather during a vigil for Malaysian national Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin to Singapore, at Speakers corner in Singapore on April 25, 2022. He was sentenced to death two days later.

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images


“Hanging an intellectually disabled and mentally ill man because he was coerced into carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a blatant violation of international law that Singapore has chosen to sign.”

Nagaenthran and his mother filed a motion on Monday arguing that it was unconstitutional to pursue his death sentence and that he may not have received a fair trial because the chief justice who presided over his appeals was the attorney general when Nagaenthran was sentenced in 2010, which the filing claimed could be a conflict of interest.

The court rejected the motion, describing it as “frivolous”.

His family said Nagaenthran’s body will be taken to his hometown in Malaysia’s northern state of Perak, where preparations were made for his funeral.

Singapore has suspended executions for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic before taking them back with the execution of a drug dealer in March.

Anyone found with more than half an ounce of heroin faces the death sentence in Singapore, although judges can reduce that to life in prison at their discretion. Attempts to reduce Nagaenthran’s sentence or obtain a presidential pardon have failed.

Malaysia’s leader, European Union representatives and global figures such as British tycoon Richard Branson called for Nagaenthran’s life to be spared and used the case to advocate an end to capital punishment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.