Convicted Malaysian drug trafficker to be hanged in Singapore after court dismisses appeal


SINGAPORE (AFP) — A Singapore court on Wednesday dismissed a last-ditch appeal by a convicted Malaysian drug trafficker, clearing the way for him to be hanged within hours.

Kalwant Singh, 32, is due to be put to death early Thursday, two months after the execution of a mentally disabled man in Singapore sparked international outrage.

Kalwant, who was convicted in 2016 of trafficking heroin into the city-state, had lodged a last-gasp attempt with the Court of Appeal to delay his sentence.

His lawyer, Too Xing Ji, sought a review of the case, arguing on Wednesday that his client had provided information that helped authorities arrest a key suspected drug trafficker.

While the death penalty is mandatory in Singapore for trafficking certain volumes of drugs, a judge can commute the sentence to life in prison if the offender acted only as a courier and cooperated with authorities.

One of the co-accused in Kalwant’s case had his sentence commuted after he cooperated substantively with investigators.

But a three-judge panel dismissed Kalwant’s appeal, citing an affidavit from Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau stating its officers did not use any information he provided to arrest a suspect.

“We dismiss the application for the stay,” Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said during a hearing.

In April, the execution in Singapore of a mentally disabled Malaysian drug trafficker, Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, triggered widespread anger.

Critics including the United Nations and European Union said that hanging someone with an intellectual disability breached international law.

Activists protest against the then planned execution of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, a mentally disabled Malaysian man sentenced to death for trafficking heroin into Singapore in 2009, outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Arif Kartono / AFP)

But in a recent BBC interview, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam disputed that Nagaenthran was mentally disabled despite him having an IQ of 69, a level medical experts said represents an intellectual disability.

He said the courts “found that he had the working of a criminal mind, and he made a deliberate, purposeful, calibrated, calculated decision to make money, to bring the drugs in”.

Shanmugam said Singapore maintained the death penalty because “there’s clear evidence that it is a serious deterrent for would-be drug traffickers”.

But Kirsten Han, a prominent Singaporean rights activist, said research had shown it was not an effective deterrent and called the executions “horrifying”.

Campaigners fear that Singapore is gearing up for more executions in the coming months.

This year so far, eight death row convicts have been informed they are to be executed, with two already hanged, Han said.

Another drug trafficker, Singaporean Norasharee Gous, 48, is also due to be hanged Thursday, she added.


© Agence France-Presse