Billionaire Richard Branson defended a man sentenced to death in Singapore for trafficking a kilo of marijuana

Richard Branson (Reuters) (Amir Cohen/)

british tycoon Richard Branson on Monday urged Singapore to stop the imminent execution of a man sentenced to death for a kilogram of cannabisstating that “he may be about to kill an innocent”.

The Singaporean is expected to Tangaraju Suppiah46, will be hanged on Wednesday, as reported by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of the city-state.

“Actually, Tangaraju was not around these drugs at the time of his arrest. This was largely a circumstantial case based on inferences”, Branson wrote on his blog, member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, based in Geneva.

Killing those at the bottom rungs of the illicit drug supply chain (…) is not very effective to stop international trade that moves hundreds of billions a year,” he said, adding that he hoped the authorities would review the case.

In many parts of the world – including neighboring Thailand – cannabis has been decriminalized and human rights groups have pressured Singapore to abolish capital punishment.

Leelavathy Suppiah (C), sister of a convicted drug trafficker Tangaraju Suppiah, who is scheduled for execution, poses with family members as she holds a petition letter to seek clemency in Singapore on April 23, 2023. - The family of a Singaporean man due to be hung next week over a kilogram of cannabis pleaded for clemency from the authorities April 23 and urged a retrial.  (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)
Leelavathy Suppiah’s relatives with a petition for clemency (AFP) (ROSLAN RAHMAN /)

The Asian financial hub has some of the toughest drug laws in the world and insists that the death penalty remains an effective deterrent against trafficking.

Tangaraju was found guilty in 2017 of “Abetting in participating in a conspiracy to traffic” with 1,017.9 grams (35.9 ounces) of cannabistwice the minimum amount worth the death penalty under the city-state’s harsh drug laws.

He was sentenced to death in 2018 and the Court of Appeal has confirmed his sentence. Tangaraju’s family also pleaded for clemency on Sunday and urged a repeat trial.

If carried out, it will be the first execution in Singapore in six months and the twelfth since last year.

Singapore is an otherwise wonderful country, so it’s very sad to see some of their policies dating back to colonialism, and even reminiscent of medieval times.Branson stated.

Branson and human rights groups They affirm that Tangaraju never handled drugs. Prosecutors have said that two mobile phone numbers he owned were used as contacts.

Singapore resumed executions in March 2022 after a hiatus of more than two years.

Among those hanged was Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, whose execution sparked a worldwide outcry, including from the United Nations and Branson, because he was deemed mentally disabled.

(With information from AFP)

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