Singapore executes man after rejecting mental disability appeal

SINGAPORE – A Malaysian man convicted of drug trafficking was executed in Singapore on Wednesday despite appeals for clemency because he had an intellectual disability, his family said.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34, has been on death row for more than a decade for smuggling 1.5 ounces of heroin into Singapore, which has some of the toughest narcotics laws in the world. His lawyers had repeatedly appealed against his execution, saying he was mentally handicapped.

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His brother Navin Kumar, 22, said over the phone the execution had been carried out and the body was being sent back to Malaysia for a funeral in the city of Ipoh.

A Singapore court on Tuesday dismissed a legal challenge brought by Nagaenthran’s mother, clearing the way for hanging.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Dharmalingam and his family reached through a gap in a pane of glass to hold each other’s hands tightly while they cried. His “Ma” calls could be heard in the courtroom.

About 300 people held a candlelight vigil at a park in Singapore on Monday to protest the planned hanging.

The Nagaenthran case has garnered global attention as a group of UN experts and British billionaire Richard Branson joined the Malaysian Prime Minister and human rights activist in urging Singapore to commute his death sentence.

His lawyers and activists said Nagaenthran’s IQ was 69, a score recognized as a mental disability. However, the courts found that he knew what he was doing at the time of his crime and ruled that there was no admissible evidence of a deterioration in his mental condition.

The Singapore government says the death penalty is a deterrent to drug trafficking and most citizens support the death penalty.

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