The Singapore Court of Appeal today dismissed an attempt by the attorney-general to quash the stay of execution granted to Malaysian Datchinamurthy Kataiah on the eve of his appointment with the gallows.
The appeal was heard at 2.30pm, hours after the High Court granted Datchinamurthy a stay of execution in a hearing which saw the 36-year-old arguing before the judge himself via a video link.
It is learnt that the speed at which the appeal was made, within a matter of hours, caught many in the legal community by surprise.
“Singapore attorney-general rushed an appeal to the Court of Appeal which was heard with astonishing speed at 2.30pm today,” lawyer N Surendran said on Twitter.
“However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the AG’s appeal – stay order maintained.”
Datchinamurthy was convicted of trafficking 45g of diamorphine into the city-state, which has attracted international criticism over claims that it fails to discriminate between drug couriers from poor families and the drug barons who hire them.
He was due to be executed tomorrow despite his legal challenge which was still pending in court.
The High Court granted him the stay of execution this morning pending the outcome of the hearing on May 20.
Datchinamurthy’s case had sparked comparison with that of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, another death row inmate who was executed early yesterday morning.
Nagaenthran’s mother Panchalai Supermaniam had appeared in court during her final attempt to save her son, as she could not find a lawyer willing to represent him.
Nagaenthran’s execution had caused international outrage due to his mental disability. He had an IQ of 69, a level recognised as a disability, and was reportedly coerced into trafficking a small amount of heroin into the island republic.
The Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers later said it would not hesitate to cite critics who repeated what it described as “false allegations” contained in Panchalai’s affidavit for contempt.
“The AGC takes a serious view of any act that may constitute contempt, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action to protect the administration of justice,” it said.