Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a Malaysian national with learning disabilities, convicted of trafficking just 42.7 grammes of heroine in 2010, has been executed in Singapore. 

In 2009, Mr Dharmalingam, who has an IQ of 69, said he was coerced into trafficking the heroin as a way to pay off his debts. He said the debts were accumulated as he tried to support his mother and his family. This version was rejected by the Prosecution, was was deemed a deliberate, purposeful and calculated decision. Singapore has a zero-tolerance drug policy. Mr Dharmalingam was sentenced to death by hanging.   

Mr Dharmalingam’s mother has long campaigned for a stay of his execution. However, judges said her last-minute plea was “vexatious”, calling her legal efforts to save Mr Dharmalingam’s life a “blatant and egregious abuse” of the legal process, and that it was “improper to engage in or encourage last ditch attempts” to delay or stop an execution.  

The death penalty in Australia existed up until 1985. Queensland was the first to abolish the death penalty in 1922. Tasmania followed in 1968, ACT and the Northern Territory in 1975, South Australia in 1976, Western Australian in 1984 and finally New South Wales in 1985.  

 In 2010, the Commonwealth Parliament passed legislation prohibiting the re-establishment of capital punishment by any state or territory. Australian law also prohibits the extradition or deportation of a prisoner to another jurisdiction if they could be sentenced to death for any crime. 

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