Singapore’s Supreme Court dismissed a Malaysian woman’s final challenge to her son’s death sentence, scheduled to be carried out on Wednesday, April 27.
Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 33, was convicted in 2010 on drug trafficking charges. He was found guilty of carrying 42.72 grams (1.5 ounces) of heroin strapped to his leg after arriving in Singapore from Malaysia and was originally scheduled to be hanged at the end of last year under Singapore’s mandatory death penalty.
Under Singapore’s 1974 Misuse of Drugs Act’s Second Schedule, anyone caught with more than 15 grams of heroin automatically receives the death sentence. Those caught with less face 30 years to life in imprisonment.
Nagaenthran, who was 21 years old at the time of his conviction, has been on death row for over a decade. According to his lawyers, he had been pressured to carry the drugs by a friend at the time who was threatening to kill his girlfriend. Nagaenthran also has a purported IQ of 69, which is a level considered mentally disabled.
Nagaenthran’s mother, Panchalai Supermaniam, filed a last minute plea on Monday; however, the Court of Appeal dismissed the motion the day after on April 26.
In her plea, Panchalai argued that Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon’s death sentencing was unconstitutional because he was also serving as the attorney-general at the time of the conviction.
In front of a packed courtroom, she told the room via an interpreter, “I want my son back alive, Your Honor.” She added that she needed more time to get a lawyer to represent her son.
Justice Andrew Phang, one of the judges present during the motion on Tuesday, declared the application was “devoid of merit” and a “calculated attempt” to disrupt the legal system.
“No court in the world would allow an applicant to prolong matters ad infinitum” by filing these motions, he said. “There must come a time when the last word of the court is the last word.”
Nagaenthran’s case has garnered international attention, with several human rights groups and high-profile figures condemning his death sentence. The United Nations, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and British billionaire Richard Branson have all scrutinized Singapore for its harsh drug laws.
Despite pressure from the international community, Singapore’s courts have consistently dismissed appeals, including ones that cite Nagaenthran as a mentally disabled individual. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ruled that there was “no admissible evidence showing any decline in the appellant’s mental condition after the commission of the offense.”
While the execution is scheduled to proceed, the court granted Nagaenthran’s final request to spend two hours with his family and hold their hands.