Singapore court calls off execution after inmate Nagaenthran Dharmalingam tests positive for COVID-19

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Nov. 9 (UPI) — Singapore’s top criminal court has temporarily called off Wednesday’s scheduled execution for a Malaysian drug trafficker, whose case has drawn international attention, after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was tried and convicted in 2010 of attempting to smuggle a small amount of heroin into Singapore, a nation that’s long doled out severe punishment for drug offenses.

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Nagaenthran’s case has drawn widespread attention because he and his attorneys are trying to get his death sentence commuted to life in prison, mainly by arguing that he is intellectually disabled and had the mentality of a minor when he committed the crime at the age of 20.

This week, Singapore’s High Court refused to stop Nagaenthran’s scheduled execution on Wednesday — but did grant an appellate hearing for Tuesday.

Upon his arrival Tuesday, Nagaenthran was found to be COVID-19 positive and the court suspended the execution until the hearing could safely be held.

The High Court adjourned the appeal hearing until a future date when Nagaenthran no longer poses a health risk.

Under Singapore law, anyone who smuggles more than 15 grams of heroin can be put to death. A change in the law several years ago allowed for judges to instead sentence offenders to life in prison.

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