Nagaenthran: Singapore executes low IQ Malaysian man on drugs charge

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam

Sarmila Dharmalingam

A court in Singapore has executed a Malaysian drug smuggler, his sister has confirmed to the BBC.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam had been on death row for more than a decade for attempting to bring a small amount of heroin into Singapore 12 years ago.

His case was highly controversial as he was assessed by a medical expert to have an IQ of 69 – a level that indicates an intellectual disability.

But the government said he “clearly understood the nature of his acts”.

The court had earlier dismissed a last-ditch appeal by his mother, adding that Nagaenthran had been given “due process in accordance with the law”.

In an earlier statement, the government said they found he “did not lose his sense of judgment of the rightness or wrongness of what he was doing”.

In 2009, Nagaenthran was caught crossing into Singapore from Malaysia with 43g (1.5oz) heroin strapped to his left thigh.

Under Singapore’s laws, those caught carrying more than 15g of heroin are subject to the death penalty.

During his trial, he initially said he was coerced into carrying the drugs, but later said he had committed the offence because he needed money.

The court said his initial defence was “fabricated”. He was eventually sentenced to death by hanging.

In 2015, he appealed to have his sentence commuted to life in prison on the basis that he suffered from an intellectual disability.

In the end, the court found that he was not intellectually disabled. A push for presidential clemency was also rejected last year.

“The Court of Appeal found that this was the working of a criminal mind, weighing the risks and countervailing benefits associated with the criminal conduct in question,” said Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs in an earlier statement.

The movement has gained traction on social media where there has been an unusual outpouring of anger and sympathy, including from the British billionaire Richard Branson and actor Stephen Fry who oppose capital punishment and have called on Singapore to spare Nagaenthran.

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Singapore has one of the world’s toughest drug laws.

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