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Hundreds in Singapore Mourn as Hanging of Mentally Disabled Man Highlights Questions on Death Penalty

AFP

Last Updated: April 30, 2022, 07:39 IST

Panchalai Supermaniam (C) reacts in front of the coffin of her son, Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who was executed for trafficking heroin into Singapore, during a funeral ceremony in Tanjung Rambutan in Malaysia's Perak district, on April 29, 2022. (AFP)

Panchalai Supermaniam (C) reacts in front of the coffin of her son, Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who was executed for trafficking heroin into Singapore, during a funeral ceremony in Tanjung Rambutan in Malaysia's Perak district, on April 29, 2022. (AFP)

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, convicted of trafficking a small amount of heroin into the city-state, was executed Wednesday after more than a decade on death row

Hundreds of mourners wept, read prayers and banged drums Friday at the funeral of a mentally disabled Malaysian man whose hanging in Singapore this week sparked an international outcry.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, convicted of trafficking a small amount of heroin into the city-state, was executed Wednesday after more than a decade on death row.

His case sparked widespread anger, with critics including the United Nations and European Union saying that hanging someone with an intellectual disability breaches international law.

Singapore insists the death penalty has helped keep the country one of Asia’s safest places.

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In the 34-year-old’s hometown of Tanjung Rambutan, in northern Perak state, about 250 mourners gathered at his home to pay their final respects, according to an AFP reporter.

Nagaenthran was a member of Muslim-majority Malaysia’s ethnic Indian Hindu minority, and the funeral followed the community’s traditions, with sobbing relatives placing flowers on his coffin.

Prayers were read, drums banged and fireworks set off, before the body was carried to a hearse to be transported to a crematorium.

“My brother was a wonderful person and we will miss him dearly," his sister, Sarmila Dharmalingam, told AFP.

“Our worst nightmares have come true."

“My humble message to the world — please abolish the death sentence," she added.

Nagaenthran was arrested aged 21 as he tried to enter Singapore with a bundle of heroin weighing about 43 grams (one and a half ounces) — equivalent to roughly three tablespoons.

Supporters say he had an IQ of 69, a level recognised as a disability, and was coerced into committing the crime.

But Singapore has defended the execution, with its drug enforcement agency saying Nagaenthran “knew what he was doing" when he committed the crime and the courts had found he did not have an intellectual disability.

Singapore resumed executions last month after a hiatus of more than two years, and activists fear authorities are set to embark on a wave of hangings.

But there was relief Thursday for another Malaysian convicted of drugs offences, Datchinamurthy Kataiah, after he won a bid to delay his hanging.

Datchinamurthy, who was found guilty of trafficking heroin into Singapore, had been scheduled to be executed Friday but it was postponed as he has another pending case in the courts

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first published:April 30, 2022, 07:39 IST
last updated:April 30, 2022, 07:39 IST