Malaysia’s PM writes to Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong for leniency in drug trafficker’s case

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KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has written to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to seek leniency in the case of a Malaysian due to be hanged this week for drug trafficking.

The case of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 33, has garnered international attention in recent weeks as human rights groups and others called for a halt to his execution, citing intellectual disability.

Datuk Seri Ismail asked the Singapore Government to look into staying Nagaenthran’s execution and sought a fresh application for presidential clemency, Malaysian news agency Bernama reported on Sunday (Nov 7).

Nagaenthran was arrested by the Singapore authorities for smuggling 42.72g of heroin in April 2009. He had been caught at Woodlands Checkpoint while entering Singapore from Malaysia, with the bundle of drugs strapped to his thigh.

He was sentenced to death by the High Court in November 2010.

The process of appeal for his case went through to the final stage, and his application for presidential clemency was rejected in June 2020. The death sentence is scheduled to be carried out on Nov 10.

Nagaenthran’s lawyers say he is intellectually disabled.

But Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said last Friday that the High Court had already considered the issue of whether Nagaenthran’s mental responsibility for his actions was substantially impaired at the time of committing the offence.

The courts held that he knew what he was doing when he committed the crime, MHA said.

The ministry’s statement noted that the High Court had assessed the evidence of psychiatrists that Nagaenthran was not intellectually disabled. This included a psychiatrist called by the defence, “who agreed in court, that Nagaenthran was not intellectually disabled”.

Citing findings from the High Court and the Court of Appeal in its statement, MHA said: “The High Court considered the facts, expert evidence from four different psychiatric/psychological experts, and further submissions by the prosecution and the defence.

“The High Court held that Nagaenthran knew what he was doing, and upheld the sentence of death.”

Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death sentence where the amount of heroin imported is more than 15g.

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