A Malaysian man with a mental disability lost a final legal appeal Tuesday against his death sentence in Singapore and faces execution soon, a lawyer and rights activists said. Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam has been on death row for more than a decade for trying to smuggle less than 1.5 ounces of heroin into Singapore in 2010, when he was 21 years old. At an earlier court hearing, his IQ was revealed to be 69—a level internationally recognized as an intellectual disability. But the court ruled Nagaenthran knew what he was doing by violating Singapore's harsh anti-drug laws, reports the AP.
Anyone found with over 0.5 ounces of heroin faces the death sentence in Singapore, although judges can reduce this to life in prison at their discretion. Nagaenthran was sentenced to death in 2010 and other attempts to reduce his sentence to life in prison or receive a presidential pardon failed. Malaysia’s leader, EU representatives, and global figures such as British business magnate Richard Branson have called for Nagaenthran’s life to be spared and used the case to advocate for ending capital punishment.
Singapore’s home affairs ministry has responded that the country has a "zero-tolerance stance against illicit drugs" and that the death penalty has been made clear at its borders. M. Ravi, a lawyer assisting the case, wrote on Facebook that Singapore's top court ruled that Nagaenthran's appeal was "an abuse of process and that international law does not apply." Nagaenthran is due to be hanged, possibly in the next few days, Ravi added. His only way out at this point would be via a pardon from Singapore President Halimah Yacob.
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