Lawyer Who Acted for Executed M’sia Drug Trafficker Probed for Allegedly Acting as Lawyer When Practising Cert Has Expired


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If you were anywhere on the internet at the end of April, you would have heard of the case of Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam.

The lawyer who represented Nagaenthran in his appeal against the death penalty is now under investigation for acting as a lawyer when her practising certificate has expired.

Need Practising Certificate Before Acting As Lawyer

The Singapore Statues website shows that every solicitor must apply for and be issued a practising certificate, before they are able to practice as an advocate and solicitor for the year.

The police said in a statement that a report was filed on 27 April against Ms Violet Netto, who acted as an advocate and solicitor at least thrice while not having a valid practising certificate.

She is currently under investigation for offences under Section 33 of the Legal Profession Act.

If found guilty of being an unauthorised person acting as an advocate or solicitor, she may be fined up to $25,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

For subsequent convictions, the penalty is increased to a maximum fine of $50,000, a jail term of a year, or both.

Possible Contempt of Court Proceedings

The Attorney-General’s Chambers brought this case up again two weeks ago, stating possible contempt of court proceedings.

This was against people here and abroad, who made false allegations against Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who ruled over this case.

The people involved include Nagaenthran’s mother, who said that Mr Menon should not have presided over Nagaenthran’s case. Her reason was that Mr Menon was Attorney-General when her son was prosecuted.

Additionally, the mother also claimed that multiple layers didn’t want to represent her due to allegedly adverse consequences.


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Nagaenthran Executed on 27 April

At 6am on 27 April 2022, Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was executed in Changi Prison.

Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009 for trafficking 42.7 grams of heroin, which was strapped to his thigh.

In 2010, he was given the mandatory death sentence, as the amount of drugs he carried on his person exceeded 15 grams.

Although Singapore and other countries have had many drug traffickers that were mete with capital punishment, Nagaenthran’s case happened to gather international attention for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there are organisations like the United Nations, Amnesty National, and Transformative Justice Collective. They are against the concept of capital punishment as a whole, believing that retributive justice doesn’t serve as a good deterrence. They also believe that the state has no right to take the life of a human being, criminal or otherwise.

Secondly, which is also the biggest point of contention, is that numerous psychologists and psychiatrists have concluded that Nagaenthran has intellectual disabilities. He has a lower-than-average IQ of 69.

Given that reasoning, it is believed that Nagaenthran didn’t understand the nature of his actions, or was not of the mind to understand if his actions were morally right or wrong. This is especially since he was allegedly coerced to carry the drug across the borders.

Despite the revelation of his learning disabilities, Singapore’s court has always upheld the notion that Nagaenthran “knew what he was doing” at the time of the offence, and repeatedly dismissed the appeals that were filed over the years.

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