A man with learning disabilities who is facing the death penalty in Singapore for smuggling a small amount of heroin has had his appeal adjourned and been given an indefinite stay of execution after testing positive for Covid.
Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a Malaysian man arrested in April 2009 when he was 21 for attempting to smuggle 43 grams of heroin into Singapore, has been on death row since 2010. His execution had been scheduled for Wednesday.
His lawyer had applied for a reprieve on Monday on the basis that his client has “severe mental disabilities” and that his execution would be unlawful. It was announced on Tuesday that Dharmalingam had tested positive for Covid, prompting the court to adjourn the hearing. It ordered an indefinite stay of execution, according to Nagaenthran’s lawyer M Ravi.
The case has caused global outrage, with Singaporean activists, UN experts, international rights groups and legal groups asking for the execution to be halted. The businessman Richard Branson, who has previously campaigned against the death penalty, also issued a statement condemning the sentence.
A group of 11 British MPs and peers have written to the Singaporean high commissioner, asking that Dharmalingam’s life be spared. In the letter, they state they have learned that Dharmalingam is “seemingly unaware of the fact he faces execution, due to his mental condition, and that he is hallucinating, incoherent, and imagining his prison cell as a garden in which he is safe”.
Read the full story in The Guardian.