A mentally challenged Indian-origin Malaysian man by the name of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was found guilty of drug trafficking and was executed in Singapore on April 26; his family confirmed after a top court rejected a last-ditch legal plea from his mother in a highly controversial case that caught the eye of the world and attracted numerous calls for clemency.
In 2009, the 34-year-old was arrested for trying to traffic 42.72 grams of heroin into Singapore, which contains one of the world's strictest drugs laws, and was given a death sentence in 2010. He was caught at Woodlands Checkpoint (a causeway that connects with Peninsular Malaysia) while going into Singapore with a bundle of drugs strapped to his thigh.
Navin Kumar, brother of Dharmalingam, told Malaysia's national news agency Bernama the execution was carried out on the morning of April 27, and the funeral is set to be held in Ipoh. The 34-year-old was on death row for over a decade and had also exhausted all legal recourse.
Initially, Dharmalingam was scheduled to be hanged on November 10, 2021, but filed a last-minute plea. This case was massively controversial as a medical expert assessed Dharmalingam to have an IQ of 69, indicating an intellectual disability.
He spent more than a decade mounting legal challenges, but Singapore's courts dismissed them. A push for presidential clemency was also rejected last year.
"The Court of Appeal found that this was the working of a criminal mind, weighing the risks and countervailing benefits associated with the criminal conduct in question," The New Indian Express quoted Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs as saying.
Dharmalingam Execution Attracts Controversy!
His mother came from northern Malaysia to the Singapore court but failed in her last-minute challenge to save her son's life on Tuesday (April 25).
The court dismissed the last-ditch appeal by his mother, saying Indian-The India-origin Malaysian man had been given "due process in accordance with the law", prompting his family to burst into tears inside the court. The government stated that he "clearly understood the nature of his acts".
"This a last-minute application, brought just two days before the scheduled execution, and is the seventh application (not including appeals) brought by Nagaenthran after his appeal against conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in 2011 more than 10 years ago," said Singapore's Attorney General's Chambers yesterday.
The decision to execute him flashed widespread criticism across the globe due to concerns regarding Dharmalingam's intellectual disabilities, with the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and even British billionaire Richard Branson, among those condemning it.
In November 20211, it was also reported that Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had written to his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong over the leniency regarding the case. Furthermore, thousands of others had also penned a petition stating that the execution of a mentally ill individual is prohibited under the international human rights law.
On Tuesday, the rights group Reprieve condemned the execution and called him the "victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice".
Dharmalingam was scheduled to be hanged on November 10, 2021; however, he found temporary respite on November 9 after the court was informed that he had tested COVID positive when he appeared for a last-bid push against his death sentence.
As per Singapore's laws, individuals caught carrying more than 15 grams of heroin are automatically subject to the death penalty. Last month, the country resumed executions after a hiatus of over two years, when it had executed another drug trafficker.
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