Singapore on Wednesday executed a mentally disabled Malaysian man condemned for a drug offense after a court dismissed a last-minute challenge from his mother and international pleas to spare him. Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, had been on death row for over a decade after he was convicted of trafficking about 1.5 ounces of heroin into Singapore. The city-state's government has said its use of the death penalty for drug crimes is made clear at the borders. Nagaenthran’s family and social activists confirmed the execution Wednesday. "On this score may I declare that Malaysia is far more humane," his sister Sarmila Dharmalingam said, per the AP. "Zero to Singapore on this."
Nagaenthran’s supporters and lawyers said he had an IQ of 69 and was intellectually disabled, and that the execution of a mentally ill person was prohibited under international human rights law. Citing psychiatrists' testimony, Singapore's courts ruled that he was not mentally disabled and had understood his actions at the time of his crime. "Hanging an intellectually disabled, mentally unwell man because he was coerced into carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a flagrant violation of international laws that Singapore has chosen to sign up to," said Maya Foa, director of non-governmental organization Reprieve.
Nagaenthran and his mother had filed a motion Monday arguing that it was unconstitutional to proceed with his death sentence and that he may not have been given a fair trial because the chief justice who presided over his appeals had been the attorney general when Nagaenthran was convicted in 2010, which the filing alleged could be a conflict of interest. The court dismissed the motion, describing it as "frivolous." His family said Nagaenthran’s body will be brought to their hometown in Malaysia's northern state of Perak, where they have made preparations for his funeral. (High-profile global figures had called for Nagaenthran’s life to be spared.)