Top Singapore court refuses to stop execution of man said to be mentally disabled

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Nov. 8 (UPI) — Singapore’s top criminal court on Monday rejected a bid by a convicted drug trafficker to escape execution, but granted a brief stay so that a court hearing can examine claims that he is mentally disabled.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was convicted of attempting to smuggle more than 40 grams of heroin strapped to his leg in 2009. Under Singapore law, he was given a mandatory death sentence for the crime.

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Dharmalingam, 33, has been appealing his case for years since Singapore altered a criminal law to give judges an option to instead sentence offenders to life in prison.

Dharmalingam’s attorneys have argued that he has an intellectual disability, a low IQ and said he had the mental capacity of a child when he committed the crime 12 years ago.

Monday, SIngapore’s High Court dismissed the effort to overturn the death sentence. High Court Justice See Kee Oon said that there’s no credible basis for the disability claim.

The court did, however, stay the execution for a court hearing on Tuesday. Dharmalingam is scheduled to be hanged on Wednesday.

Dharmalingam’s punishment has been condemned by international groups including the International Federation for Human Rights and Amnesty International.

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Supporters argue that there’s evidence to indicate that Dharmalingam was forced to be a drug runner as a victim of human trafficking. A petition calling for his sentence to be commuted has collected more than 60,000 signatures.

Dharmalingam’s attorney has argued that executing intellectually disabled persons is prohibited by most international laws.

Singapore has long been the target of international criticism for its severe punishments for criminals.

American Michael Fay was famously punished in Singapore in 1994 for vandalizing vehicles by receiving four lashes of a cane. The punishment is called “caning.”