A mere two days before he was scheduled to hang at the gallows, the Singaporean High Court has today granted a stay on the execution of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam.
In a last ditch attempt to spare his life, his lawyers successfully challenged the constitutionality of the decision up to the Court of Appeal in the city-state, which has since been granted.
This means that his execution will not take place until at least the end of the appeals process at the higher court – the date of which is yet to be fixed.
Earlier, amid an outpouring of public consternation over the case, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri wrote to his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong to appeal the decision on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
“While I note that the legal process has been exhausted, I submit this appeal for leniency purely on humanitarian grounds, without any intention to interfere in Singapore’s judicial process.
“I believe there is still room for the government of Singapore to consider granting a stay of execution and allowing a new petition for Presidential Clemency in the case of Mr Nagaenthran,” Sabri wrote in the letter.
Even with the stay of execution granted, it remains to be seen if the Singaporean courts decision would be reversed under current circumstances.
In a statement by the city-state’s Ministry of Home Affairs, they justified that the court had already considered Nagaenthran’s intellectual disability, but still held that he “knew what he was doing”.
Despite having some of the harshest laws on drugs anywhere in the world, an amendment passed in 2014 allows courts in Singapore to mete out life sentences (as opposed to outright execution) should the defendant be certified as a ‘courier’ (or ‘drug mule’), or suffering substantial ‘abnormality of the mind’.
International pressure has been ramping up, namely from the European Union delegation to Singapore – which has issued a statement formally calling for the commuting of Nagaenthran’s death sentence to non-capital punishment.
Indeed, the outcry is also unanimous from rights groups near and far, with a Human Rights Watch representative calling the decision “disproportionate and cruel, and deserves global condemnation”.
Your move now, Singapore. The world is watching.