Skip to content

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A mentally disabled Malaysian is to be hanged next week in Singapore after losing a final appeal, rights groups said Wednesday, but his Malaysian lawyer has mounted a new bid to end execution.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam has been on death row since 2010 for attempting to smuggle less than 43 grams (1.5 ounces) of heroin into Singapore. His scheduled hanging last November drew widespread criticism, including from the European Union and British business tycoon Richard Branson, as he is believed to be mentally handicapped with an IQ of 69 – a level internationally recognized as an intellectual disability.

A Singapore court ruled that Nagaenthran knew what he was doing by breaking Singapore’s tough anti-drug laws. Nagaenthran lost his last appeal on March 29.

Nagaenthran’s Malaysian lawyer immediately wrote a letter to the Attorney General of Singapore asking for the execution to be halted on April 27.

Lawyer Surendran Nagarajan said Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon presided over various Nagaenthran appeals. Menon was attorney general when Nagaenthran was convicted in 2010, raising the issue of a conflict of interest with him presiding over appeals, Surendran said.

“Our client is constitutionally entitled to a rehearing of the cases heard and decided by Judge Sundaresh Menon,” he said in the letter, posted on his Facebook page.

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network and the Transformative Justice Collective have also called for a halt to the executions. They said the Singapore government gave Nagaenthran no independent psychiatric assessment and dismissed his disability solely on feedback from the prison service.

“Providing Nagaenthran with an independent psychiatric assessment at this stage would cause no harm” to Singapore, but demonstrates that it has given a person with a disability the right to exercise their legal rights, they said.

Nagaenthran and several other recent death row cases have shed light on Singapore’s capital punishment policy for drug offences. Singapore’s Home Ministry said the country had a “zero tolerance stance against illicit drugs” and the death penalty was clear at its borders.

The Associated Press