“Nagaenthran. Save him. Only then there will be some relief. Sorry for the wrongs he has done. Everyone please help.”
(“Nagaenthran. Selamatkan dia. Baru hati senang. Minta maaf dia sudah salah. Semua orang tolong.”)
This was the final plea that Panchalai Supermaniam made on Facebook, as the mother of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, while her son is slated for execution next Wednesday (27 Apr).
So, what happened?
The Long Walk to the Gallows
Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009, at age 21, for trafficking 42.72g of heroin across the borders.
In 2010, he was given the mandatory death sentence under the Misuse of Drugs of 1973, and he has been on death row since.
Though many appeals were made to overturn the sentence, it was to no avail.
In 2011, the appeal against his conviction and sentence was dismissed.
In 2017, despite having evidence from psychological and psychiatrist experts stating that he was suffering from mental disabilities and had a lower-than-average IQ of 69, the High Court ruled that his capital punishment will still be upheld.
His original date of execution was 10 Nov 2019, but by some stroke of luck, he contracted COVID-19, which spared him from the hangman’s noose briefly.
His case garnered international attention, with Amnesty International and notable figures like Richard Branson speaking out for him, and there were even a demonstration in Kuala Lumpur, protesting that the execution of an intellectually disabled man was wrong.
Alas, even the last-ditch attempt to appeal his sentence fell through on 29 March.
The Court of Appeal had deemed the attempt an abuse of court processes, and against the constitutional challenge which premised on the fact that the international law does not condone executing someone with mental disabilities, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon refuted by saying that judicial decisions are based on domestic laws.
In fact, the Chief Justice went as far as stating that the case built by the defence’s counsel was “baseless and without merit, both as a matter of fact and of law”.
And thus, all plans to save Nagaenthran from the gallows have failed.
The only thing that can save him now is a pardon from President Halimah Yakob herself.
The Thoughts of the Lawyer
From beginning to end, Singaporean Human Rights Lawyer M. Ravi has been fighting long and hard for Nagaenthran’s case.
Yesterday (20 Apr), Mr Ravi took to his LinkedIn page to voice his thoughts about the imminent execution.
“Just received the heartbreaking news that Nagaenthran will be hanged next Wednesday.
“The Singapore state will never be able to recover from the disgrace it’s going to face internationally in hanging an intellectually disabled person.
“Everything from the beginning is wrong about this case. Even the government psychiatrist at the trial admitted that Nagaenthran suffered from an abnormality of the mind.
“I will say that all Singaporeans will have blood in their hands next Wednesday as the execution is done in their name. You have a duty to stop this!!!”
By this point, very little can be done when the Court has repeatedly and persistently upheld the death penalty for Nagaenthran, never moving away from the narrative that “he knew what he was doing”.
Nagaenthran might have been coerced into strapping a bundle of unknown substance to his thigh as his girlfriend’s life was being threatened, some assessments may have shown that he has mental disabilities, but the Court’s opinion has never been swayed.
This is it.
After thirteen years, Nagaenthran Dharmalingam will meet his maker on 27 April 2022.
Singapore has always maintained its stance on capital punishment for several offences, which includes, murder and drug trafficking, believing that it serves as a suitable deterrence against such crimes.
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