Singapore court rejects Malaysian death row appeal


Dismissing bid for reprieve, Court of Appeal accuses Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s lawyers of ‘abuse’ of court processes.

Singapore’s appeals court has rejected a last-minute bid by Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s lawyers who argued the Malaysian should not be hanged because he has learning disabilities.

Dharmalingam was convicted of drug trafficking in 2010 after he was found with about 42.7 grammes (1.5 oz) of heroin and his family was due to be hanged in November.

His lawyers were granted a last-minute appeal, and argued that the 33-year-old should not be executed because his IQ of 69 meant he had trouble making informed decisions. They called for an independent psychiatric evaluation of their client.

After an earlier hearing was postponed, the court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal and accused the defence lawyers of a “blatant and egregious abuse of the court processes”.

Nagaenthran’s case has attracted international attention with the Malaysian government, United Nations experts, the European Union, and civil society groups questioning his sentence. Although the city-state has amended sentencing guidelines to allow judges to impose a life sentence in limited cases as an alternative to the mandatory death penalty, Singapore’s drug laws remain among the harshest in the world.

The UN experts expressed concern over Nagaenthran’s questioning after his arrest, noting he did not have access to “procedural accommodations for his disability during his interrogation”. They also highlighted that the death penalty should not be carried out on those with serious psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.

Activists said that with Nagaenthran’s appeal dismissed, he could be executed within seven days.



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