Man with special needs faces death penalty for heroin smuggling

An intellectually disabled man is facing being hanged for serving as a drug mule when he was threatened by traffickers.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam will be executed on Wednesday, November 10, despite repeated appeals and petitions calling for him to be pardoned on the grounds that he was "coerced" into the offences.

He was arrested in 2009 after he was caught with 43g of heroin strapped to his thigh as he entered Singapore.

Defence lawyers say that he agreed to smuggle the substance after asking for a loan of 500 ringgit (£88) from a drug smuggler in Malaysia, who threatened violence against him and his girlfriend when he hesitated.

Lawyer N Surendran said: "Singapore is putting itself in the same category as Iran or North Korea in sentencing to death or putting on death row a mentally challenged individual.

"This is a matter of grave seriousness. It is beyond dispute that he suffers from a mental disability and the evaluation was made by an independent psychiatrist and the evidence has been submitted to the court."

He faced trial in 2010, where he was found guilty and given the death penalty, which is mandatory for the offence over there. However, exemptions can be made for the intellectually impaired.

Experts who examined Nagaenthran found him to have a "very low" IQ of 69 but all of his court appeals rejected the claim that he should be spared execution.

A new petition to push President Halimah Yacob to pardon Nagaenthran was started on October 29, Indian Express reports.

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It seeks 50,000 signatures in support of the clemency plea to the president. It has gathered 39,962 signatures as of November 4.

The petition reads: "Given that Nagaenthran is intellectually disabled, committed a non-violent crime and was allegedly coerced by assaults and threats.

"We sincerely appeal for President Halimah Yacob to uphold Singapore’s commitment to the UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) by pardoning Nagaenthran’s death sentence."

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