Monday, December 6, 2021

Nagaenthran having delusions of coming home as new date set in fight to stay alive

His appeal has now been set for Nov 30, with a legal group warning that execution could follow 'very quickly' if this is dismissed.

Other News

Concerns have been raised about the mental deterioration of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a Malaysian prisoner on death row in Singapore, as a new date for appeal is set in his fight to stay alive which has so far included efforts by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the Agong and business tycoon Richard Branson.

UK-based legal group Reprieve said the appeal had been scheduled for Nov 30 following the stay of execution granted after Nagaenthran’s Covid-19 diagnosis just before a last-ditch attempt in court to stop his execution on Nov 10.

It said Nagaenthran’s brother, Navinkumar, had visited him in prison and discovered that his mental state had “severely deteriorated”.

“I don’t think he has any idea that he’s going to be executed. He doesn’t seem to understand it at all,” Navinkumar said in a statement.

“When I visited him he talked about coming home and eating home-cooked food with our family. It broke my heart that he seemed to think he’s coming home.”

Navinkumar said Nagaenthran had also suffered “other delusions” about taking “three-hour baths and sitting in a garden”.

“He often can’t remember the most basic things and some of what he says is completely incoherent.”

Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009 for carrying 43g of heroin into Singapore, which has some of the world’s toughest anti-drugs laws.

A diagnosis of his mental capability found among other that he has an IQ of 69 – below the threshold of 70 for declaring a person as intellectually disabled.

He was nonetheless sentenced to death the following year and was due to be hanged on Nov 10 after losing several appeals, despite supporters’ claims that his intellectual disability means he can’t make rational decisions.

Rights groups had mounted a campaign seeking to save his life, with dozens of civil society activists gathering outside the Malaysian Parliament on Nov 3 to highlight his case to MPs.

Critics also remind the Singapore government of its obligation to abide by international treaties prohibiting capital punishment for mentally disabled persons.

But the city-state dismissed the protests, saying Nagaenthran was fully aware of his actions and suggesting that he was fabricating his mental state by altering his academic qualifications to show he has inferior IQ.

This drew immediate condemnation from Lawyers for Liberty, a vocal critic of Singapore’s human rights record, in particular its handling of death row inmates convicted of drug trafficking.

“In no way does the excuse of having a tough anti-drug policy ameliorate or justify the hanging of a mentally disabled person. Nothing can make this execution right or palatable to any decent right-minded person,” the group said.

Ismail wrote to his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in early November, asking for leniency to be shown towards Nagaenthran.

He said he understood the Singapore government’s refusal to halt the execution based on the assertion that all legal processes have been exhausted, adding however that he hoped Nagaenthran’s appeal could be considered “purely on humanitarian grounds”.

British aviation magnate Branson meanwhile urged the Singapore president to grant Nagaenthran a pardon, saying Nagaenthran’s case was just one example of others around the world where poor people forced to courier drugs to make a living had to bear “fatal consequences” while the real culprits continued to thrive with their lucrative illicit business.

It was recently revealed in the Dewan Rakyat that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had also written to Singapore on Nagaenthran’s behalf, asking the president to reduce his sentence or to release him.

A petition calling for a halt to his execution has been signed by over 90,000 people.

Reprieve said Nagaenthran’s execution had only been stayed pending his appeal, which put him at risk of imminent hanging which could take place “very quickly” if his appeal is dismissed.

“The heart-wrenching fact that Nagaenthran believes he is going home to his family further demonstrates that he does not fully understand he faces execution, adding to the already overwhelming evidence that he does not have the mental competency to be executed,” its director Maya Foa said.

“Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has made clear his commitment to champion the rights of persons with disabilities. Allowing this travesty of justice to take place would fly in the face of those promises.”

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles