Officials in Singapore defended the Wednesday execution of a mentally disabled Malaysian man who was caught with 1.5 ounces of heroin in the country in 2009 following multiple court appeals and international criticism.
Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau and Attorney General’s Chambers issued separate statements justifying the execution of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, on Wednesday.
The bureau said Dharmalingam’s actions were “a deliberate, purposeful and calculated decision.” They noted that he was “capable of manipulation and evasion” and that he “attempted to stop a search by telling the officers that he was ‘working in security,’ thus appealing to the social perception of the trustworthiness of security officers.”
“[Dharmalingam] knew what he was doing,” the drug enforcement agency said. “He did not suffer from intellectual disability.”
“He was also noted to be continuously altering his account of his education qualifications … to reflect lower educational qualifications each time he was interviewed,” the agency added.
The Attorney General’s Chambers said Dharmalingam was given a fair trial and that he had “exhausted his rights of appeal and almost every other recourse under the law over some 11 years.”
The Malaysian citizen was arrested in April 2009 after he smuggled 42.72 grams (1.5 ounces) of heroin strapped to his leg at Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore. A year after his arrest, he was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.
Dharmalingam’s lawyers said he was forced to act as a drug mule for a friend who assaulted him and threatened to kill his girlfriend. He was not fully capable of understanding his actions because of his IQ of 69, according to his lawyers.
The case attracted global outcry from the United Nations, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, European Union representatives and British billionaire Richard Branson. This resulted in the postponement of his death sentence, which was scheduled for November 2021.
Dharmalingam’s lawyer filed multiple appeals to stop the execution, but the city government believes the death penalty to be a deterrent against drug trafficking.
Illegal import or export of more than 15 grams of heroin is subject to a death sentence under Singapore’s 1974 Misuse of Drugs Act’s Second Schedule.
A candlelight vigil with nearly 300 people was held in protest against Dharmalingam’s execution on April 25 in a park in Singapore.
“Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice,” Maya Foa, director of anti-death penalty group Reprieve, said. “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.”
Feature Image via The Star