- Malay was to be hanged on Wednesday
- Singapore court summoned to hear enforcement appeal
- “COVID allowed him to live,” says lawyer
- British tycoon, UN experts call for commutation of sentence
SINGAPORE, Nov. 9 (Reuters) – A Singapore court on Tuesday suspended the execution of a Malaysian convicted of drug trafficking on “common sense and humanity” grounds after confirming he tested positive to COVID-19, the day before his death. to be hanged.
The judge did not rule on a last-minute appeal filed on behalf of 33-year-old Nagaenthran Dharmalingam and said the stay of execution was until further notice.
“We have to use logic, common sense and humanity,” Judge Andrew Phang told the court, referring to the diagnosis of COVID-19 and the stay of execution.
The court had met to rule on the appeal against the execution of a man whose lawyer argued should be spared because he was not sane.
A handcuffed Dharmalingam made a brief appearance in court.
Dharmalingam was arrested in April 2009 and has been on death row for over a decade for trafficking 42.72 grams of heroin.
His case has gained international attention, with the Malaysian prime minister, a UN panel of experts and British billionaire Richard Branson among those calling on Singapore to commute its death sentence.
Singapore, a wealthy city-state, has some of the world’s toughest illegal drug laws.
The man’s lawyer, Mr Ravi, said he now had more time to prepare for the resumption of proceedings.
“COVID allowed him to live in this world, rather than killing it,” Ravi said.
Ravi and the activists say that Dharmalingam’s intellect was at a level recognized as a mental handicap, and that he suffers from other disorders affecting his decision-making and impulse control.
Authorities said Singapore courts were confident he knew what he was doing.
Dharmalingam’s sister Sarmila Dharmalingam told Reuters that the suspension of the execution would give the family hope, at least for a while.
“We hope for the best. Day after day, we fight against fear… For now, we can relax a bit but we still don’t have peace, ”she said.
“The whole world is talking about this case, so many people are against its execution. “
From 2016 to 2019, Singapore hanged 25 people – the majority for drug-related offenses, according to official data.
There were no executions in Singapore last year.
Reporting by Chen Lin; Additional reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Written by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel
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