A mentally handicapped man is executed in Singapore for trying to smuggle three spoonfuls of heroin into the country

A mentally handicapped man is executed in Singapore for trying to smuggle three spoonfuls of heroin into the country

Sarmila Dharmalingam
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was on death row for more than a decade.

Plea for mercy came from all over the world, but went unheeded.

A mentally disabled man was executed in Singapore on Wednesday after being convicted of drug trafficking more than a decade ago.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam He had been on death row since 2009 for trying to smuggle around three tablespoons of heroin into the country.

His sister confirmed to the BBC that he had been executed.

Her case was highly controversial as a medical expert assessed her to have an IQ of 69, a level indicating an intellectual disability.

But the government considered that the man “clearly understood the nature of his actions.”

A court on Tuesday dismissed a last-minute appeal by the mother, saying Nagaenthran had been given “due process in accordance with the law”.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Nagaenthran and her family used a gap in a glass screen to hold hands tightly as they wept, according to a report from Reuters.

His cries of “ma” could be heard in the courtroom.

The arguments

In an earlier statement, the Singapore government maintained that Nagaenthran “did not lose his sense of judgment about the right or wrong of what he was doing.”

In 2009, the man was caught crossing into Singapore from Malaysia with 43g of heroin strapped to his left thigh.

Under the laws of Singapore, people caught carrying more than 15 grams of heroin are subject to the death penalty.

During his trial, the 34-year-old initially said he was forced to transport the drugs, but later said he committed the crime because he needed money.

The court found his initial defense to be “fabricated”. He was eventually sentenced to death by hanging.

In 2015, he appealed to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds that he suffered from an intellectual disability.

In the end, the court determined that he did not have an intellectual disability. An attempt at presidential clemency was also rejected last year.

“The Court of Appeal determined that this was the work of a criminal mastermind, weighing the risks and compensatory benefits associated with the criminal conduct in question,” Singapore’s Home Office said in an earlier statement.

The movement to stop his death sentence gained traction on social media, where even celebrities such as British billionaire Richard Branson and actor Stephen Fry had called on Singapore to pardon Nagaenthran.

The execution of a mentally ill person is prohibited under international law.

Rights group Reprieve condemned the Singapore court’s decision, calling the man a “victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice”.

“Nagen’s last days were spent, like much of the last decade, in the tortuous isolation of solitary confinement,” said Reprieve director Maya Foa.

Singapore has one of the strictest drug laws in the world.


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