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Outcry as Singapore executes man with learning difficulties over drugs offence

A man with learning difficulties has been executed in Singapore for attempting to smuggle a small amount of heroin, despite repeated pleas for his life to be spared, in a case campaigners have described as a “tragic miscarriage of justice”.

His sentence horrified international rights groups, and prompted an outcry around the world, from EU representatives and UN experts, to the billionaire Richard Branson and actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry. Within Singapore, where support for the death penalty is high, the handling of his case has also prompted some to question the city state’s approach to drugs-related crimes.

Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty, said Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s name would go down in history as “the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice”.

“From rushed hearings to intimidation of Nagen’s lawyers, this case has laid bare Singaporean authorities’ hollow claims about affording due process. But this is a watershed moment. With Nagen’s plight igniting unprecedented protests in the country calling for abolition of the death penalty, it’s clear the tide is turning in Singapore.

“Capital punishment in Singapore disproportionately targets drug mules rather than the drug lords that traffic or manipulate them. Most of its victims are, like Nagen, poor, vulnerable and from marginalised communities. This is a broken system,” said Foa. Read the full story in The Guardian.