A man with intellectual disabilities was executed in Singapore on Wednesday, April 27 in Singapore, for drug trafficking offences, after a long campaign by local and international organizations for his clemency failed.
Police from Singapore, known for its zero-tolerance drug laws, arrested
Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a 34-year-old Malaysian citizen, in 2009 for bringing 42.7 grams (1.5 ounces) of heroin into Singapore. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.
A psychologist assessed his IQ to be 69 leading his lawyer to file multiple appeals to overturn the execution, arguing that Dharmalingam should not have been sentenced to death under Singaporean law because he was incapable of understanding his actions due to his mental ability.
Even the United Nations and international celebrities joined in the fight and public outcry against his execution.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and British billionaire Richard Branson also decried the court’s proceeding despite his intellectual disability but a Singapore court rejected a final appeal from Dharmalingam’s lawyer in March, saying there was “no admissible evidence showing any decline in the appellant’s mental condition after the commission of the offense.”
On Tuesday, a Singapore court turned down a legal challenge by Dharmalingam’s mother, clearing the way for the execution.
At the end of the court hearing, Dharmalingam and his family wept as they grasped each others’ hands through a gap in a glass screen, according to reports by Reuters.
The report added that Dharmalingam’s cries of “ma” — which means “mother” — could be heard in the courtroom.
Dharmalingam’s brother was told by a prison official that the execution had been completed on Wednesday, his family’s lawyer, N. Surendran, has revealed
“His brother is waiting to collect his body and take it back to their hometown, Ipoh in Malaysia,” Surendran said to CNN.
Reacting to the killing, BAnti-death penalty group Reprieve said Dharmalingam’s “name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice.”
“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,” Reprieve director Maya Foa said in a statement.
“Nagen’s last days were spent, like much of the last decade, in the torturous isolation of solitary confinement. He had to seek the court’s permission to hold his family’s hands one final time yesterday. Our thoughts are with Nagen’s family, who never stopped fighting for him; their pain is unimaginable.”
Dharmalingam spent a decade on death row and during that time his condition further deteriorated, according to his lawyer.
About 300 people held a candlelight vigil in a Singapore park on Monday to protest against Dharmalingam’s impending execution, according to Reuters.
Singapore is known for having the strictest drug laws in the world.
Trafficking as little as 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of heroin results in a mandatory death sentence under the Misuse of Drugs Act.