KUALA LUMPUR: The Singapore Court of Appeal has dismissed a last-minute plea filed by the mother of a Malaysian death row inmate, paving the way for his execution on Wednesday.
Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, has been on death row for more than a decade after trafficking nearly 43 grams of heroin into Singapore, which has some of the world’s strictest drug laws.
Dharmalingam’s lawyers had filed multiple appeals against his execution, arguing that his IQ was found to be at 69 — a level recognized as an intellectual disability.
In a last-ditch effort to halt the execution, Dharmalingam’s mother, Panchalai Supermaniam accused Singapore’s chief justice, Sundaresh Menon, over a possible conflict of interest. Menon served as attorney general when Dharmalingam was convicted.
The mother’s plea was dismissed on Tuesday.
“Nagaenthran’s final appeal was just dismissed in appalling circumstances. His mother’s pleas to be allowed to appoint a lawyer were ignored by the court,” Dharmalingam’s Malaysian lawyer, N. Surendran, told Arab News.
“The verdict (was) given without hearing from Nagaenthran’s side at all.”
The case has put a spotlight on Singapore’s use of capital punishment and sparked an international outcry, with pressure coming from the UN, the EU and Malaysia’s prime minister to commute his death sentence.
Dobby Chew, executive director of the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, said that Supermaniam’s appeal “must be fully explored and addressed in the court.”
“Anything short of that would cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the legal processes,” he told Arab News.
On the eve of Dharmalingam’s planned execution, some were still hoping Singaporean President Halimah Yacob would grant him clemency.
“We are disappointed with the verdict and hope the president will intervene to spare Nagaenthran’s life. It’s not too late to commute his sentence,” Amnesty International’s Brian Yap said.
“The world is waiting anxiously to see if Singapore will do the right thing and stop the execution of an intellectually disabled person.”