Singapore court reserves judgement on Malaysian drug trafficker on death row

01 Mar 2022 12:55pm
An activist holding a placard attends a candlelight vigil against the impending execution of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin into Singapore, outside the Singaporean embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 8, 2021. - AFP
An activist holding a placard attends a candlelight vigil against the impending execution of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin into Singapore, outside the Singaporean embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 8, 2021. - AFP
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SINGAPORE - The Singapore Court of Appeal on Tuesday reserved its judgement on Malaysian Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam's appeal against a High Court decision.

The High Court in November 2021 had denied Nagaenthran permission to start judicial review proceedings to challenge his execution for a drug trafficking offence.

The hearing today was heard before a five-member panel comprising of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Justices Andrew Phang, Judith Prakash, Belinda Ang and Chao Hick Tin.

"We will reserve judgement and come back to you soon," said Menon in a packed courtroom.

Apart from his appeal, Nagaenthran who was represented by Violet Netto also asked the court to exercise its powers to have him assessed by psychiatrists.

"He (Menon) said he will release the judgement very soon but he didn’t give a date. I don’t think it is today,” Public Prosecutor Wong Woon Kwong said when asked the expected date for the judgment to be released.

Donning a purple prison uniform, Nagaenthran was seen calm and waiving to someone who is believed to be his family member at the public sitting area before the hearing started.

Hailing from Perak, he was sentenced to death in 2010 for trafficking 42.72g heroin into Singapore in 2009.

His appeals against his conviction and sentence were dismissed in 2011.

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He then applied in 2015 to be resentenced to life imprisonment after the law was changed to allow the alternative sentence.

The High Court however upheld his death sentence in 2017 after considering expert evidence from four psychiatric and psychological experts.

The process of appeal went through to the final stage, and his application for presidential clemency was rejected on June 1, 2020.

Nagaenthran's case had drawn international attention and on Nov 7, it was reported that Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had written to his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong seeking leniency in this case.

On Dec 3, Singapore President Halimah Yacob said Nagaenthran has been accorded with full due process under the law.

Nagaenthran’s lawyers claim that he is intellectually disabled. He was scheduled to be hanged on Nov 10, 2021, however, found temporary respite on Nov 9 after the court was told he had tested positive for Covid-19 when he appeared for a last-bid attempt against his sentence.

Meanwhile, Nagaenthran’s counsel, Netto said what is left for her client is now is "judicial mercy”. - BERNAMA