Singapore executes Indian man for cannabis trafficking despite pleas for clemency

Singapore executes Indian man for cannabis trafficking despite pleas for clemency

Tangaraju Suppiah was convicted of "abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic" about 1kg (35oz) of cannabis from Malaysia to Singapore in 2013. He was not found with the drugs or during the delivery.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 10:47 AM IST
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Tangaraju Suppiah | Twitter

Singapore has executed a man convicted of conspiring to traffic cannabis, despite pleas for clemency from his family, activists, and the United Nations. Tangaraju Suppiah, aged 46, was hanged at Changi Prison on Wednesday, a BBC report stated.

Last year, Singapore executed 11 people on drug charges, including an intellectually impaired man for trafficking heroin. Singapore has some of the world's toughest anti-drug laws, which it argues are a necessary deterrent to preventing drug crime.

Cannabis has been decriminalised in many parts of the world, including in neighbouring Thailand where its trade is encouraged.

Criticism from activists and the UN

Activists have said Suppiah had been convicted on weak evidence and had had limited legal access during his prosecution. The authorities said he had received due process and criticised activists for questioning the courts.

Singapore's stringent drug laws and use of capital punishment put it increasingly at odds with other countries in the region, activists say. Its neighbour Malaysia abolished mandatory death sentences earlier this month, saying they were not an effective deterrent to crime.

Tangaraju Suppiah's case

Tangaraju Suppiah was convicted of "abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic" about 1kg (35oz) of cannabis from Malaysia to Singapore in 2013. He was not found with the drugs or during the delivery. But prosecutors said he had been responsible for coordinating it, and they traced two phone numbers used by a deliveryman back to him. He claimed he was not the person communicating with others connected to the case. He said he had lost one of the phones and denied owning the second one.

Last-minute appeal rejected

On Tuesday, Singapore's courts rejected a last-minute appeal from Tangaraju Suppiah's family against his 2018 conviction. In recent days they and activists had delivered letters to Singapore's President Halimah Yacob in a last-minute plea for clemency, while British billionaire Sir Richard Branson had called for a halt of the execution and a review of the case.

Singapore's response to criticism

Sir Richard, who had previously criticised the 2022 execution of intellectually impaired Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, said the latest case was "shocking on multiple levels". Rebutting his allegations, Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry accused him of "disrespect for Singapore's judges and our criminal justice system". It said the death penalty was "an essential component" in a multi-pronged approach that had been "effective in keeping Singapore safe and secure".

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