Friday, November 26, 2021

Singapore delays hearing of appeal on hanging of disabled person

SINGAPORE (NWN) – Singapore’s top court on Tuesday postponed the hearing of an appeal to a Malaysian man on death row who was believed to be mentally handicapped after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. case that attracted international attention.

Naghenthran K, 33, for trying to smuggle heroin into the country in quantities less than 43 grams (1.5 ounces) each. Dharmalingam was to be hanged on Wednesday.

The Malaysian national was sentenced to death in November 2010 under Singapore’s strict anti-drug laws. Despite pleas from the international community and rights groups, all attempts to reduce his sentence in prison or obtain a presidential pardon have failed.

Court of Appeals Judge Andrew Fang said Naghenthran had tested positive for COVID-19 after the defendant was brought to court, but was then suddenly taken again.

The court rejected a prosecutor’s suggestion that Naghenthran was to testify via video.

“We have to issue a moratorium on execution till all proceedings are over. This is the proper order of things,” said Fang.

The stay of execution follows a court ruling on Monday that had already made a similar order, pending the outcome of an appeal to the Supreme Court of Singapore.

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Naghenthran’s defense counsel M. Ravi has based his appeal on the argument that the execution of a mentally challenged person is a violation of Singapore’s constitution.

Opponents of the death penalty say that Naghenthran’s IQ of 69 was revealed during a previous lower court hearing, a level that is internationally recognized as an intellectual disability.

But the court ruled that Naghenthran knew what he was doing and upheld the death sentence.

Members of the international community, EU representatives, rights groups and global figures such as British business magnate Richard Branson have called for Naghenthrun’s life to be spared, and used the case to draw attention to advocacy of the death penalty. has done.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yacoub also reportedly called for leniency “on purely humanitarian grounds” in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, dated 3 November.

Anyone found with more than 15 grams (0.5 oz) of heroin faces the death penalty in Singapore, although judges can at their discretion reduce this to life in prison.

The last execution in Singapore took place in 2019.

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