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Singapore executed a Malaysian man convicted of smuggling drugs, despite a series of appeals by human rights advocates and global leaders to spare him because he suffered from a mental disability, the New York Times reported.
Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was hung early Wednesday, a day after the country’s appeals court cleared the way for the execution.
The 34-old-man had been on death row for more than a decade: In 2009, authorities caught him trying to enter Singapore from Malaysia with about 1.5 ounces of heroin strapped to his thigh.
His lawyers, family and activists said that Nagaenthran suffered from an intellectual disability, adding that he was coerced and unable to comprehend his actions. Nagaenthran’s case attracted the attention of many powerful figures, including Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and British billionaire Richard Branson.
More than 100,000 people signed a petition pleading with Singapore’s president, Halimah Yacob, to pardon him.
Many advocates criticized the execution of the intellectually disabled man as a “tragic miscarriage of justice” and “a flagrant violation of international laws.”
But Singaporean authorities had rejected multiple appeals to overturn his death sentence, saying that Nagaenthran had received a fair trial and that his actions were “the working of a criminal mind.”
The small Southeast Asian nation has one of the world’s toughest drug laws and considers the death penalty a deterrent to drug trafficking.