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Singapore officials defend decision to execute disabled drug trafficker

Nangaenthran Dharmalingam holding a child
Nangaenthran Dharmalingam holding a child Image credit:

Officials in Singapore have defended their decision to execute a Malaysian drug trafficker with learning disabilities saying he “knew what he was doing” and they had “exhausted” all other options.

Nangaenthran Dharmalingam was hanged on Wednesday for smuggling 42.72 grams of heroin into the country in 2009.

His sentence was challenged by campaigners saying he did not have the mental capacity to understand the crime he was carrying out.

But hours after Dharmalingam’s death at Changi prison Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau said his actions were "a deliberate, purposeful and calculated decision".

The agency believed he “knew what he was doing” and “did not suffer from intellectual disability”.

In a statement the bureau said Dharmalingam was “capable of manipulation and evasion”, and he “attempted to stop a search by telling the officers that he was ‘working in security’ thus appealing to the social perception of the trustworthiness of security officers.

“He was also noted to be continuously altering his account of his education qualifications… to reflect lower educational qualifications each time he was interviewed.”

In addition to the statement Singapore’s attorney general chambers said the man was given a fair trial and he had "exhausted his rights of appeal and almost every other recourse under the law over some 11 years".

His brother, Navin Kumar, was told Dharmalingam had been executed by the Changi prison officials who made plans for his remains to be carried back to their home in Malaysia’s Ipoh.

Dharmalingam’s IQ was recorded as 69, which is internationally regarded as an intellectual disability. He also had a medical history of additional mental disorders affecting his ability to make his own decisions and was diagnosed with an impulse control disorder which was brought to the attention of the Singapore Court of Appeal during the hearings.

Sir Richard Branson and Stephen Fry were among those who appealed for mercy for Dharmalingam to Singapore’s president Halimah Yacob and PM Lee Hsien Loong 

A second Malaysian drug trafficker, Datchinamurthy Kataiah, is set to be executed on Friday.