Singapore to hang 2nd Indian-origin drug trafficker in 3 months, appeal fails
Kalwant Singh, an Indian-origin Malaysian drug trafficker, is to be executed early Thursday after a Singapore court dismissed a last-minute appeal to delay his sentence. This comes two months after authorities executed another Indian-Malaysian drug trafficker - Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34 - whose lawyers and family appealed on grounds he was mentally disabled.
Singh, 32, was convicted in 2016 of trafficking heroin into the city-state and sentenced to be hanged to death. He had sought a review on grounds he had given information that helped arrest a key suspected drug trafficker.
On Singh's behalf the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network wrote to the Singapore embassy, asking for the execution to be suspended.
It pointed out Kalwant had been threatened with violence and forced to make drug deliveries to Singapore to repay a football gambling debt.
In Singapore the death penalty is mandatory for those convicted of trafficking 15 grams or more of pure heroin. However, a judge can commute the sentence to life in prison if the offender acted only as a courier and cooperated with authorities. One of the co-accused in Kalwant Singh's case, news agency AFP said, had his sentence commuted after he cooperated with investigators.
However, a three-judge panel dismissed Singh's appeal, citing an affidavit from the Central Narcotics Bureau saying it did not use any information he provided to arrest the suspect.
"We dismiss the application for the stay," chief justice Sundaresh Menon said.
In April Singapore executed Dharmalingam, who had been on death row for over a decade. He was convicted of trafficking about 43 grams of heroin.
His family and legal counsel pointed to his IQ of 69 and the execution of a mentally ill person is prohibited under international human rights law.
In a recent BBC interview, though, law minister K Shanmugham disputed the IQ claim; he said the courts found 'a deliberate, purposeful, calibrated, calculated decision... to bring the drugs in'.
The debate over the death penalty in Singapore is fierce, with the government insistent it has a deterrent value '... shown by... the significant reduction of very serious crimes (and) drug traffickers restricting (their activities) to below the capital sentence thresholds'.
However, Kirsten Han, a prominent Singaporean rights activist, was quoted by AFP as saying the research had shown it was not an effective deterrent and called the executions 'horrifying'.
Another trafficker, Singaporean Norasharee Gous, 48, is also due to be hanged Thursday.
With input from AFP
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