(CNN) — A man with intellectual disability was executed in Singapore on Wednesday, his family’s lawyer said, after a long-running clemency campaign failed, putting the city-state’s zero-tolerance drug laws under scrutiny again.
Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a 34-year-old Malaysian citizen, was arrested in 2009 for bringing 42.7 grams of heroin into Singapore. The man was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.
A prison official told Dharmalingam’s brother that the execution had been completed on Wednesday, his family’s lawyer, N. Surendran, told CNN.
“His brother is waiting to collect his body and take it back to his hometown of Ipoh in Malaysia,” Surendran said.
Appeal rejected in Dharmalingam case
Dharmalingam’s case drew international attention, including from the United Nations, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and British billionaire Richard Branson, who condemned the court proceedings despite his intellectual disability. A psychologist evaluated her IQ at 69.
His lawyer filed several appeals to have the execution overturned, arguing that Dharmalingam should not have been sentenced to death under Singapore law because he was incapable of understanding his actions.
But a Singapore court rejected a final appeal by Dharmalingam’s lawyer last month, saying “there was no admissible evidence showing a decline in the appellant’s mental condition after the commission of the offence”.
On Tuesday, a Singapore court rejected a legal challenge by Dharmalingam’s mother, paving the way for his execution, according to Reuters. At the end of the hearing, Dharmalingam and her family wept as they held hands through a gap in a glass screen, Reuters reported, adding that Dharmalingam’s cries of “ma,” meaning “mother,” could be heard. listen in the courtroom.
The anti-death penalty group Reprieve said Dharmalingam’s “name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice”.
“Hanging a mentally ill and intellectually disabled man because he was forced to carry less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a flagrant violation of international law to which Singapore has chosen to subscribe,” Reprieve director Maya Foa said in a statement. release.
“Nagen’s last days were spent, like much of the last decade, in the tortuous isolation of solitary confinement. Yesterday he had to seek permission from the court to hold his family’s hands one last time. Our thoughts are with the Nagen’s family, who never stopped fighting for him, their pain is unimaginable.”
Zero tolerance of drug trafficking in Singapore
Singapore has some of the strictest drug laws in the world.
Trafficking in a certain amount of drugs results—for example, 15 grams of heroin—in a mandatory death sentence, under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It was only recently, and after the Dharmalingam case began, that the law was changed to allow a convicted person to escape the death penalty in certain circumstances.
Dharmalingam spent a decade on death row, during which time his condition deteriorated further, according to his lawyer.
Some 300 people held a candlelight vigil in a Singapore park on Monday to protest Dharmalingam’s impending execution, according to Reuters.