Singapore executes mentally disabled man despite worldwide outcry

Singapore executes mentally disabled man despite worldwide outcry thumbnail
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People display placards and led lights during a vigil for Malaysian national Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin into Singapore, at Speakers corner in Singapore on April 25, 2022. Two days later, he was executed. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Singapore on Wednesday executed a mentally disabled Malaysian man condemned for a drug offense after a court dismissed a last-minute challenge from his mother and international pleas to spare him.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, had been on death row for over a decade after he was convicted of trafficking about one-and-a-half ounces of heroin into Singapore. The city-state government stated that it uses the death penalty for drug crimes at its borders.

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

“On this score may I declare that Malaysia is far more humane,” his sister Sarmila Dharmalingam said. “Zero to Singapore in this. “

Nagaenthran’s supporters 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’s courts ruled, citing psychiatrists’ testimony in court, that he was not mentally disabled and had understood his actions at the time of his crime. “Nagaenthran Dahilingam’s name is going down in history as the victim a tragic miscarriage or justice,” Maya Foa, director at Reprieve, said.

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People gathers during a vigil for Malaysian national Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin into Singapore, at Speakers corner in Singapore on April 25, 2022. Two days later, he was executed. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images

“Hanging an intellectually disabled, mentally unwell man because he was coerced into carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a flagrant violation of international laws that Singapore has chosen to sign up to. “

Nagaenthran and his mother had filed a motion Monday arguing that it was unconstitutional to proceed with his death sentence and that he may not have been given a fair trial because the chief justice who presided over his appeals had been the attorney general when Nagaenthran was convicted in 2010, which the filing alleged could be a conflict of interest.

The court dismissed the motion, describing it as “frivolous. “

His family stated that Nagaenthran’s corpse would be taken to Perak, Malaysia’s northern state. They have already made arrangements for his funeral.

Singapore had halted executions for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic before resuming them with the execution of a drug trafficker in March.

Anyone found with over a half-ounce of heroin faces the death sentence in Singapore, although judges can reduce that to life in prison at their discretion. The attempts to reduce Nagaenthran’s sentence or get a presidential pardon were unsuccessful.

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

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