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A Malaysian man named Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was executed in Singapore on Wednesday for smuggling about 43 grams (1.5 ounces) of heroin into the country. He was convicted on the charge in 2010 and has been on death row for more than a decade. Having 15 grams (just under a tablespoon) of heroin is enough to get the death penalty in Singapore.
Here’s the thing – Dharmalingam was believed by many supporters, his family and lawyers to be mentally-disabled, having an IQ of 69. Executing someone considered intellectually disabled sparked a public outcry, even bringing attention from the UN. Dharmalingam’s mother and lawyers fought to the last minute to overturn the execution, but the courts said that he knew what he was doing when he committed the crime, calling their efforts a “blatant and egregious abuse of the court processes.”
“The execution of Nagaenthran is a disgraceful act by the Singapore government – ruthlessly carried out despite extensive protests in Singapore and Malaysia and an outcry across the world,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director Erwin van der Borght.
“We prefer not to have to impose the death penalty on anyone, but we have to continue to do what is best for us as a matter of policy,” said K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Law.
“Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice,” said Maya Foa, director of NGO Reprieve. “Hanging an intellectually disabled, mentally unwell man because he was coerced into carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a flagrant violation of international laws that Singapore has chosen to sign up to.”