Singapore grants 11-hour stay of execution to Malaysians with COVID-19 – Community News
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Singapore grants 11-hour stay of execution to Malaysians with COVID-19

The undated photo shows Nagaenthran Dharmalingam (2nd L) with his sister Sarmila (R) and his cousins ​​in Malaysia. Sarmila Dharmalingam/Handout via REUTERS

  • Malaysian was to be hanged on Wednesday
  • Singapore court meets to hear execution appeal
  • “COVID allowed him to stay alive,” says lawyer
  • British tycoon, UN experts urge penal commute

SINGAPORE, Nov. 9 (Reuters) – A Singapore court on Tuesday suspended the execution of a Malaysian convicted of “common sense and humanity” for drug smuggling after confirming he tested positive for COVID-19 a day before he would be hanged.

The judge did not rule on a last-minute appeal filed on behalf of 33-year-old Nagaenthran Dharmalingam and said the execution had been postponed until further notice.

“We have to use logic, common sense and humanity,” Judge Andrew Phang told the court, referring to the COVID-19 diagnosis and the postponement of execution.

The court had met to rule on the appeal against the execution of a man whose lawyer had argued that he should be spared because he was not of sound mind.

A handcuffed Dharmalingam briefly appeared in court.

Dharmalingam was arrested in April 2009 and has spent more than a decade on death row for smuggling 42.72 grams of heroin.

His case has attracted international attention, including the Prime Minister of Malaysia, a group of UN experts and British billionaire Richard Branson among those who have called on Singapore to commute its death sentence.

Singapore, a prosperous city-state, has some of the strictest laws in the world against illegal drugs.

The man’s lawyer, M. Ravi, said he now had more time to prepare for the proceedings to resume.

“COVID has allowed him to live in this world, instead of killing him,” Ravi said.

Ravi and activists say Dharmalingam’s intellect was at a level recognized as a mental disability, and that he has other disorders that affect his decision-making and impulse control.

Authorities said Singapore courts were convinced he knew what he was doing.

Dharmalingam’s sister, Sarmila Dharmalingam, told Reuters that a stay of execution would give the family hope, at least for a while.

“We hope for the best. Day after day we struggle with fear … For now we can relax a bit, but we still have no peace,” she said.

“The whole world is talking about this case, so many people are against his execution.”

From 2016 to 2019, Singapore hanged 25 people – the majority for drug-related crimes, according to official data.

There were no executions in Singapore last year.

Reporting by Chen Lin; Additional coverage by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Written by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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