Singapore executed a man convicted of trafficking a kilogram of marijuana

Leelavathy Suppiah, sister of convicted drug trafficker Tangaraju Suppiah, poses with members of her family while holding a leniency petition letter in Singapore on April 23, 2023. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN/AFP/File) (ROSLAN RAHMAN/)

singapore executed this wednesday at Gallow still prisoner convicted of conspiring to traffic with a kilogram of marijuanaa qualified execution of “scandalous” by human rights organizations and that the UN He asked to stop due to doubts about the guarantees of the judicial process.

“Despite all our efforts and struggle over the past years to get my brother a fair trial, the (Singaporean) government has shown have no mercy”, denounced today in a statement Leela Suppiahsister of the executed, Tangaraju Suppiah.

Singaporean of origin tamilTangaraju was hanged, the method used by the Asian city-state, at around 6:00 a.m. local time (22:00 GMT) in Changi prison, after being sentenced to death in 2018 for “being accessory to a conspiracy to traffic” a kilo of marijuana from Malaysia to Singapore five years before.

The Singaporean authorities thus ignored the appeals, both from Tangaraju’s family, who had requested clemency In a letter sent on Sunday to the president, Halimah Jacobsuch as NGOs and even the UN Agency for Human Rightswho urged on Tuesday that stop execution in the face of doubts as to whether the process had the necessary guarantees.

A marijuana user since adolescence, Tangaraju was implicated in the case in March 2014, six months after the smuggling attempt occurred, for an alleged telephone contact with two people to introduce the cache into Singapore, which his lawyers and family maintain that he never saw or touched.

Singapore broke records in 2022 by hanging eleven prisoners in a few months, including a heroin dealer with intellectual disabilities (Getty)
Singapore broke records in 2022 by hanging eleven prisoners in a few months, including a heroin trafficker with intellectual disabilities (Getty) (Getty Images / iStockphoto /)

Likewise, his relatives and activists have denounced that the man, executed at the age of 46, did not receive proper legal advice and was denied access to a Tamil interpreter when he was initially questioned by the police.

“We are used to seeing acts of injustice, but with this one we are in shock for the how weak the evidence is and how easy it is to send someone to the gallows”, he affirmed on Tuesday to the news agency EFE Kokila Annamalaispokesperson for Transformative Justice Collective (TJC), a local NGO calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

For its part, the island’s Ministry of the Interior defended yesterday in a statement that “Tangaraju was represented by legal advisers throughout the judicial process” and that “the evidence indicates that he was the one who coordinated the delivery of the drugs.”

Singapore, first and foremost, a strong hand

Its execution is the first so far this year, after in 2022 Singapore broke records by hanging eleven prisoners in a few monthsincluding a heroin dealer with intellectual disabilitywhich also sparked criticism from the international community and calls for the island to review its approach.

But the prosperous city-state, whose regulatory effectiveness and support for innovation have elevated it as a regional financial center, is showing off its strong hand against drug trafficking and other crimes in proceedings criticized by human rights groups for their opacity and primitivism, with whipping and hanging among his punitive methods.

Police officers in Singapore, June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon/File
Police officers in Singapore, June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon/File (REUTERS/)

“Our approach has worked for us, and we will continue to lead our way in accordance with what is in the best interests of Singaporeans,” added the Interiors statement yesterday, issued in response to previous criticism by British billionaire Richard Branson over the case of Tangaraju.

“Singapore’s continued use of the death penalty for drug possession is a violation of human rights that makes much of the world step back and wonder if the image of modern, civilized Singapore is just a mirage,” he said in a statement today. phil robertsondeputy director for Asia of Human Rights Watch (HRW), who considered the execution “unacceptable”.

In the opposite direction to Thailand

Tangaraju’s case further highlights the contrast between Singapore, which has one of the most draconian anti-drug laws in the world and contemplates the death penalty for a minimum of 500 grams of marijuana traffickingwith the direction taken by neighboring countries, such as thailand.

This country became first in Southeast Asia to legalize marijuana cultivation for medical use in June of last year, and since then there has been a fever surrounding the cannabis business, with nearly 8,000 stores throughout the country.

In addition, Malaysia last month abolished the mandatory death penaltyuntil then imposed without an alternative for crimes such as drug trafficking, after years of taking steps in favor of its annulment.

“It is hard to accept that as more and more countries adopt measures to regulate cannabis use safely, we live in a country that not only jails and punishes people for cannabis-related offenses, but takes lives for it. ”, proclaims the NGO Transformative Justice Collective on its website.

(With information from EFE)

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