Singapore Court Rejects Mentally Ill Man’s Appeal Against Death

Nagaentran K Dharmalingam was sentenced to mandatory death in 2010. AFP


Singapore’s highest court today dismissed the mentally handicapped Malaysian man’s final appeal against the death penalty, with his family saying they were “devastated” and “shocked” by the decision.

Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam was arrested in 2009 for trafficking small amounts of heroin into the city-state, which has some of the strictest drug laws in the world, and handed down a mandatory death sentence the following year.

He was originally scheduled to be hanged in November, but the show sparked criticism over concerns about his intellectual disability, with the European Union and British billionaire Richard Branson among those condemning him.

The 34-year-old made a final appeal, with his lawyer arguing that the death penalty for someone with a mental disability is contrary to international law.

But the Court of Appeal rejected the challenge, with Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon saying it had “no factual and legal basis”.

Nagaenthran has been “given due process” and his defense has submitted “nothing forward to suggest that he has a case”, he said, accusing Malaysian lawyers of abusing the court process to suspend the hanging.

Nagaentran, wearing a purple prison dress and a white face mask, looked grim throughout the proceedings.

M Ravi, a human rights lawyer who assisted in the case, said no further appeals would be made and the death penalty could be carried out in a few days.

Speaking to AFP from Malaysia, his sister Sarmila Dharmalingam sobbed as she said the family was “devastated by the court’s decision”.

“We were shocked by the court’s decision even though my brother … had a low IQ.”

His long -running case has been a “horrible team for us,” he added.

The appeal was supposed to be made a few months ago but was postponed after Nagaentran was infected with Covid-19.

There have been no death sentences in Singapore since 2019, but concerns are growing that the city -state is preparing to suspend some drug traffickers in the next few months.

Singapore is among more than 30 countries around the world where drug -related offenses are still punishable by death, according to Amnesty International.

Nagaenthran was arrested at the age of 21 after a bundle of heroin weighing about 43 grams (one and a half ounces)-equivalent to about three tablespoons-was found strapped to his thigh as he attempted to enter Singapore.

Proponents say he has an IQ of 69 – a level recognized as a disability – and was forced to commit the crime.

But authorities have defended his conviction, saying that the legal decision found he “knew what he was doing” at the time of the offense.

The city -state maintains the death penalty for a number of offenses, including drug trafficking and murder, and insists it has helped keep Singapore as one of the safest places in Asia.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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